Primary Sources and Ambiguity in Legal History
Teaching Legal History: Comparative Perspectives. London: Wildy, Simmons, and Hill (2014)
5 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2014
Date Written: June 18, 2014
In this essay, I describe my methodology of teaching a legal history seminar. I design my class to include an intensive study of primary sources with two main goals in mind. First, by interpreting statutes and cases alongside sources like public letters and speeches, students learn to situate sources of mandatory legal authority within their historical context. Second, by reading primary sources that present conflicting historical narratives, students learn the more difficult skill of drawing conclusions in the face of interpretative ambiguity.
Keywords: Legal History, Constitutional History, Constitutional Interpretation, Ex Post Facto Clause, Legal Education
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