James Oakes is Distinguished Professor of History and Graduate School Humanities Professor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His most recent books are Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865 and The Scorpion's Sting: Antislavery and the Coming of the Civil War.
John Fabian Witt is Allen H. Duffy Class of 1960 Professor of Law at Yale Law School. His most recent book Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History was awarded the 2013 Bancroft Prize, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, was selected for the American Bar Association's Silver Gavel Award, and was a New York Times Notable Book for 2012. Previous writing includes Patriots and Cosmopolitans: Hidden Histories of American Law (Harvard University Press, 2007), and The Accidental Republic: Crippled Workingmen, Destitute Widows, and the Remaking of American Law (Harvard University Press, 2004), as well as articles in the American Historical Review, the Columbia Law Review, the Harvard Law Review, the Yale Law Journal, and other scholarly journals. In 2010 he was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for his project on the laws of war in American history.
The abolition of slavery and the advent of humanitarian limits in war have long been viewed as two of the great moral accomplishments of modern history. But we are only recently beginning to see how interconnected these two developments really were. How did Enlightenment laws of war affect the way Americans dealt with slavery in wartime? Or is that the wrong question? Should we ask, instead: How did the way Americans dealt with slavery and emancipation in wartime shape their understanding of the laws of war? Do the successes of antislavery help us understand the character of humanitarian constraints in war? And do the considerable failings of those humanitarian constraints in wartime shed light on the limits of Emancipation? Readings and discussions take up these questions by examining early American wars, beginning with the War of Independence and ending with the Civil War and Reconstruction.
Friday afternoons, 2:00–5:00 p.m., September 19, 26, October 10, and 24. The seminar will meet at the New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York City.
The seminar is designed for graduate students and junior faculty in history, political science, law, and related disciplines. All participants will be expected to complete the assigned readings and participate in seminar discussions. Although the Institute cannot offer academic credit directly for the seminar, students may be able to earn graduate credit through their home departments by completing an independent research project in conjunction with the seminar. Please consult with your advisor and/or director of graduate studies about these possibilities. Space is limited, so applicants should send a copy of their c.v. and a short statement on how this seminar will be useful to them in their research, teaching, or professional development. Materials will be accepted only by email at MMarcus@nyhistory.org until May 1, 2014. Successful applicants will be notified soon thereafter. For further information, please contact Maeva Marcus at (202) 994-6562 or send an email to MMarcus@nyhistory.org.
There is no tuition or other charge for this seminar, though participants will be expected to acquire the assigned books on their own.
The Institute for Constitutional History (ICH) is the nation’s premier institute dedicated to ensuring that future generations of Americans understand the substance and historical development of the U.S. Constitution. Located at the New York Historical Society and the George Washington University Law School, the Institute is co-sponsored by the American Historical Association, the
Organization of American Historians, and the American Political Science Association. The Association of American Law Schools is a cooperating entity. ICH prepares junior scholars and college instructors to convey to their readers and students the important role the Constitution has played in shaping American society. ICH also provides a national forum for the preparation and dissemination of humanistic, interdisciplinary scholarship on American constitutional history.
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