Teaching Contract Law: Introducing Students to a Critical Perspective Through Discussion of Indentured Servitude and Sharecropper Contracts
6 Pages Posted: 11 Aug 2011 Last revised: 29 Jan 2016
Date Written: August 11, 2011
An introductory law school course in contract law, prior to commencing the detailed study of specific doctrines, should at the outset provide some general orientation to the students by presenting them with a broad overview of the conventional characterization of contract law as a benign social institution that facilitates private ordering and promisee reliance. However, this initial orientation to the underlying rationale of the subject should also expose the students to a contrasting and more critical perspective that calls attention to contract law’s occasional use as a means of social domination and oppression. A brief discussion of the history of indentured servitude and sharecropper contracts in the USA provides an excellent vehicle for imparting this critical perspective, and this can be done in a succinct matter that does not crowd out too much doctrinal coverage. This short article presents a sample text suitable for a 20-to-30 minute coverage of these subjects in an introductory contract law course.
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