December 12, 2019

Twomey on An Analysis of Pitt Cobbett's Portrait of Australia's Constitution from 1788 to 1919 @SydneyLawSchool

Anne Twomey, University of Sydney Law School, has published An Analysis of Pitt Cobbett's Portrait of Australia's Constitution from 1788 to 1919, in William Pitt Cobbett, The Constitution and Government of Australia, 1788 to 1919 (Anne Twomey, ed. The Federation Press, Sydney, 2019). Here is the abstract.
William Pitt Cobbett was Dean of the Sydney Law School from 1890 to 1910, throughout the period when the Australian Constitution was drafted and first interpreted by the Griffith High Court. Upon retirement he devoted the rest of his life to writing a grand opus on the Constitution and government of Australia. It analysed the development of Australia's constitutional system from British settlement to the enactment of the federal Constitution and its early operation, viewing it as a social compact based upon constitutional implications. The manuscript was left unpublished because shortly after Cobbett's death the High Court took a significantly different approach to constitutional interpretation in the Engineers case. A century later Cobbett's "The Constitution and Government of Australia, 1788-1919" has now been published by The Federation Press. It is an historic work of great importance to those looking to discern how constitutional provisions were originally believed to operate. This paper identifies and analyses the most important aspects of Cobbett's work, pointing out where he was prescient, what is surprising, what is dated and how Cobbett's voice still resonates today. It addresses a range of issues including: federalism, the separation of powers, executive government, defence, external affairs, race issues, the Senate's powers, vice-regal powers, elections and the Court of Disputed Returns.
Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

December 9, 2019

Call For Nominations: The Penny Pether Law & Language Scholarship Award 2019

Call for Nominations: The Penny Pether Law & Language Scholarship Award 2019

A passionate advocate for interdisciplinary scholarship in law, literature, and language, Penelope J. Pether (1957-2013) was Professor of Law at Villanova University School of Law and former Professor of Law and Director of Legal Rhetoric at the American University Washington College of Law. Her own scholarship focused not only on law, literature, and language, but also on constitutional and comparative constitutional law; legal theory, including constitutional theory; common law legal institutions, judging practices, and professional subject formation.

Beginning in November 2013, the Penny Pether Award for Law & Language Scholarship has been given annually to an article or essay published during the preceding year that exemplifies Penny’s commitment to law and language scholarship and pedagogy.

The Committee selecting award recipients from among the articles and essays nominated will look for scholarship that not only embodies Penny’s passion and spirit but also has some or all of the following characteristics:

1. “[S]cholarship concerning itself with the unique or distinctive insights that might emerge from interdisciplinary inquiries into ‘law’ grounded in the work of influential theorists of language and discourse.”

2. Scholarship that “attempts to think through the relations among subject formation, language, and law.”

3. Scholarship that provides “accounts of—and linguistic interventions in—acute and yet abiding crises in law, its institutions and discourses.”

4. Scholarship and pedagogy, including work addressing injustices in legal-academic institutions and practices, that is “[c]arefully theorized and situated, insisting on engaging politics and law, [and that] charts ways for law and its subjects to use power, do justice.”

More explanations and descriptions of these characteristics can be found in Penny’s chapter from which these quotations are drawn: Language, in Law and the Humanities: An Introduction (Austin Sarat et al. eds., Cambridge U. Press 2010).

A list of past winners appears here:

Nominations should be sent by January 31, 2020, to Karen Scullion at

Any article or essay published during the calendar year 2019 is eligible.  You are free to nominate more than one work and to nominate work you’ve written. Please provide a citation and a pdf for each work you nominate. 

The Selection Committee includes Linda Berger, Corinne Blalock, David Caudill, Amy Dillard, Bruce Hay, Ian Gallacher, Melissa Marlow, Jeremy Mullem, Nancy Modesitt, Stephen Paskey, Yvette Russell, Anne Ralph, and Terry Pollman.

Members of the Selection Committee are not eligible for the award.

December 6, 2019

Call For Proposals: The Utopia/Dystopia Project: A Writing Workshop, UNLV School of Law, Feb. 13-14, 2020 @UNLVLaw @elmacdowell @ljewel

The Utopia/Dystopia Project: A Writing Workshop 
February 13-14, 2020
William S. Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada Las Vegas

There is no end / To what a living world / Will demand of you.
Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower 

In these days of hate politics and urgent need, there is a great need for countervailing narratives and envisioning. The Utopia/Dystopia Project seeks to engage the legal imagination with utopian and dystopian art forms to decolonize mental space, reframe critical consciousness, and engender deep resistance. Project organizers believe that this art has much to teach the legal academy about understanding contemporary politics and re-organizing and re-envisioning what comes next. Popular utopian and dystopian narratives may illuminate truth and sharpen our vision. Indeed, the most critical articulations of these genres struggle with basic questions while expressing alternative visions of what could be. Speculative texts urge us to think from a different perspective than the ones we normally occupy, to live differently than we are, and to dissent from the status quo. They teach us to resist against what scares or enrages us, and to build and engender what we hope for and love. They show us that alternative possibilities for empathy, recognition, and joy may be as near as the next frame or the turn of a page. 

This Workshop follows the powerful Utopia/Dystopia Project Conference held at Tulane University School of Law in April 2019, and panels at critical legal conferences in 2018-19. Guiding questions addressed at these events included: What is law? What is justice? What are our obligations to one another? What is sacred? What is profane? What is a person? What is gender? What is sex? What is race? Must our answers be linear, inevitable, binary? Participants also engaged questions about ethics, power, and the realm of the political: How should we treat one another? What does it mean to live a good or just life? How does power structure our interactions and inevitabilities in our lives? Could power structures be other than they appear to be? How? What institutions shape our life chances/choices? What does it mean to belong or to exclude? What is self,  community, nation, other? 

Please join us for an intimate workshop to support the development of a rich, interdisciplinary legal scholarship that engages these themes. This Workshop will continue this vital dialogue with a focus on developing the participants’ ideas and scholarship toward the goal of publication. Participants will share working drafts before the Workshop and receive intensive feedback at the Workshop, as well as participate in discussions of cross-cutting ideas and issues, in a supportive environment. 

We are seeking proposals for participation. 
Participation may include academic and artistic written materials that engage socio-legal themes, storytelling in the critical race theory tradition, and speculative, utopian and/or dystopian materials, themes, or ideas. Proposals of 250-500 words should be emailed to by Dec. 19, 2019 and include the author’s resume. Selected participants will be notified by Dec. 27. 
Working drafts will be due Jan. 24, 2020. Inquiries may be sent to Elizabeth MacDowell or another organizing committee member: Cyra Akila Choudhury, FSU College of Law;  Atiba R. Ellis, Marquette University Law School; Anthony Farley, Albany Law School; Marc-Tizoc González, St. Thomas University School of Law; Lucy Jewel, University of Tennessee College of Law; Brant Lee, University of Akron School of Law; Saru Matambanadzo, Tulane University Law School; Christian B. Sundquist, Albany Law School; and Matthew Titolo, West Virginia University College of Law.

December 5, 2019

CFP: Media Represetations of Law and Justice: Middle Eastern Perspectives, March 12-13, 2020

Call for papers: Media Representations of Law and Justice: Middle Eastern Perspectives. This workshop will be held at the Institute of Oriental Studies, University of Leipzig, March 12-13, 2020. Professor Lena-Maria Moeller and Professor Hanan Badr will host. Here is the Call. See also below.

The Arab-German Young Academy of Sciences and Humanities (AGYA) in cooperation with the Institute of Oriental Studies, University of Leipzig is pleased to announce the Call for Papers for the international and interdisciplinary Workshop ‘Media Representations of Law and Justice: Middle Eastern Perspectives’ in Germany at the Institute of Oriental Studies, University of Leipzig, 12−13 March 2020.

Law and/in popular culture has been an emerging field of research (at least) since the 1980s. Its initial prominence was primarily limited to North America  the main hub of popular legal culture which, through various kinds of movies and television shows, impinged on what people generally believe about law and legal institutions. By now, the interrelation of law and popular culture has made its way into European legal academia. In addition, transnational comparative studies on how law and justice are portrayed in movies and fictional television dramas have been conducted, providing additional insight for both scholars of law and media studies.

At the same time, the law and/in popular culture discourse has been largely restricted to Europe and North America. Research usually centers on ‘Western’ legal culture and its cinematic/televised representations. Oftentimes, non-‘Western’ legal traditions and systems are only portrayed as supposed counter-examples to the liberal state under the rule of law that is promoted in dominant popular culture.

The AGYA workshop on Media Representations of Law and Justice: Middle Eastern Perspectives’ moves away from this established regional focus by including Middle Eastern legal regimes and their respective local media depictions. We particularly invite contributions on Arabic-language cinematic and television formats (including those on more recent streaming services and social media sites) screening legal system in either contemporary or historical perspective. We also welcome papers on legal dramas from neighboring countries in the ‘Greater Middle East’, as well as comparative studies to allow for broader transnational perspectives. By enabling a conversation not only between different regional sites of media production, but also among various disciplines, a range of analytical methods will be tested and employed to analyze the means and ends to which a legal system is portrayed in popular formats.

Topics, themes, and issues to be explored include, but are not confined to the following:

·         Cultural representations of domestic legal systems and legal traditions in contemporary courtroom dramas;
·         The political framework in which legal dramas are produced and its impact on both content and format;
·         Audiences, viewers, and their changing perceptions of the law;
·         The impact of satellite TV and online streaming services on legal dramas, their production, and content;
Plots, characters, and sociopolitical critique in legal dramas.

The workshop is organized by AGYA member Lena-Maria Möller (Institute of Oriental Studies, University of Leipzig/Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law, Hamburg) and AGYA alumna Hanan Badr (Institute for Media and Communication Studies, Freie Universität Berlin). Travel costs and accommodation for confirmed speakers will be covered by AGYA. Funding is still subject to approval.
Those interested in presenting papers are invited to send a tentative title, an abstract of around 300-500 words, and a short biography to Lena-Maria Möller ( by 8 January 2020.

Notifications of acceptance will be announced by 15 January 2020 and draft papers will be due by 15 February 2020. The workshop language will be English. The organizers aim to publish the papers either as an edited volume or as a special issue of an academic journal.

About AGYA

The Arab-German Young Academy of Sciences and Humanities (AGYA) is based at the Berlin- Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW) and at the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology (ASRT) in Egypt. It was established in 2013 and is the first bilateral young academy worldwide. AGYA promotes research cooperation among outstanding early-career researchers from all disciplines who are affiliated with a research institution in Germany or in any Arab country. The academy supports the innovative projects of its members in various fields of research as well as in science policy and education. Currently, 50 members  in equal number Arab and German scholars  realize joint projects and initiatives. AGYA is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and various Arab cooperation partners.
For more information about AGYA and the Institute of Oriental Studies, University of Leipzig please visit: