Trials in History

Painting of Socrates and friends.

Jacques-Louis David, Death of Socrates, 1787. (Image courtesy ofWebMuseum.)


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Fall 2000



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Course Description

This seminar examines a number of famous trials in European and American history. It considers the salient issues (political, social, cultural) of several trials, the ways in which each trial was constructed and covered in public discussions at the time, the ways in which legal reasoning and storytelling interacted in each trial and in the later retellings of the trial, and the ways in which trials serve as both spectacle and a forum for moral and political reasoning. Students have an opportunity to study one trial in depth and present their findings to the class.

Elizabeth Wood. 21H.907 Trials in History, Fall 2000. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

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