Critical Race Theory: Issues of Race, Gender & Class

Critical Race Theory: Issues of Race, Gender & Class

Professor Lani Guinier
Spring 2016 reading group
M 1:00pm - 3:00pm in Hauser Hall Room 101
1 classroom credit

Prerequisites: Enrollment is by-permission. Students should submit a statement of interest of no more than one page to Chanda Smart at

Exam Type: None.

Note: Professors Gerald Torres, Susan Sturm and Dayna Cunningham will co-teach this reading group.

In the mid-1980s a scholarly movement developed in the legal academy challenging both the substance and style of traditional legal scholarship related to race: Critical Race Theory. This movement questioned the structure and assumptions of traditional civil rights litigation including the focus on individual rights as well as definitions of meritocracy and color-blind approaches to solving legal problems. Critical race scholars employed new methodologies for legal scholarship, including storytelling, combining legal and literary analysis, and post-modernism and post-structuralism.

Insights from post-colonialism as well as the self-conscious use of qualitative analysis and first person accounts of racialized law and legal institutions helped distinguish this new school. Critical race theorists view racism as a reflection of historical and contemporary racialized policies that are embedded in legal, political, and cultural institutions. “Race” is the working out of this lived experience and that experience is part of the constitution of a racialized identity. CRT brings this insight to bear in analyzing law and legal institutions. CRT has had a troubled role in the academy because it not only cuts across many disciplines, but because it has combined scholarly inquiry with advocacy. Some of the members of this reading group may choose to explore its genesis and its continuing critical relevance. Critical race theory can then be useful in telling us about how to understand current social movements and the role that lawyers may play.

Note:The first class meeting will be Monday, January 25th. The rest of the meeting dates are 2/8, 2/22, 3/7, 3/21, 4/4.

Subject Areas: Legal & Political Theory, Constitutional Law & Civil Rights, Disciplinary Perspectives & Law