This seminar explores the background of a number of property cases, some that are widely recognized as breakthrough cases, which continue to resonate today with the larger themes of property, and some that provide excellent vehicles to address key areas of property law. The course emphasizes the importance of the great stories of the interaction of people and the law that are at the root of all the doctrine, rules, and concepts that become relevant in a dispute about the allocation of rights and responsibilities of ownership between private parties or between individuals and the collective. It is out of these conflicts involving real human emotions and desires that our regime of property law emerges and evolves. The course invokes a complex mix of ideas, including liberty, responsibility, economic efficiency, redistribution, coercion, reliability, and predictability, among others, through analysis of major cases and secondary sources on a wide range of substantive topics in property. Seminar sessions will require student participation, with the instructor guiding the discussion. Students must come to class willing and able to discuss the assigned material each week. In addition to class discussions, students are required to write a 15-page research paper, which will qualify for upper-level writing requirement credit; write several short essays; and do an oral presentation for part of one class. Grades will be based upon class participation, class preparedness, the short essays, the oral presentation, and the research paper.
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