March 27, 2009

Television and Torture

Bev Clucas, University of Hull School of Law, has published "24 and Torture," in Torture: Moral Absolutes and Ambiguities (B. Clucas, G. Johnstone and T Ward eds.; Nomos: Baden-Baden, 2009). Here is the abstract.
In this chapter, I explore and reflect on the underlying themes concerning torture and legitimate action in 24. I begin with a short introduction to the TV show itself, highlighting the many different instances of torture, as well as some of the general criticisms leveled at it. I then proceed to consider some of the moral issues associated with the dissemination of information about torture in general, first in relation to factual instances of torture, and then fictional. This discussion informs a more detailed analysis of the depiction of torture in 24. Having considered the express intentions of the program makers, I apply a scheme of analysis on 'speech acts' devised by J.L.Austin, and developed by Langton, to argue that the real intention of the program makers is better understood as pro-torture propaganda: an instance of double immorality, as not only does the show push a pro-torture message, but also, it does so under the pretense of pure entertainment.

Download the essay from SSRN here.

March 24, 2009

What's In a Name? Maybe a Judgeship

Bentley Coffey, Clemson University, and Patrick A. McLaughlin, George Mason University, Mercatus Center, have published, "From Lawyer to Judge: Advancement, Sex, and Name-Calling." Here is the abstract.

This paper provides the first empirical test of the Portia Hypothesis: females with masculine monikers are more successful in legal careers. Utilizing South Carolina microdata, we look for correlation between an individual's advancement to a judgeship and his/her name's masculinity, which we construct from the joint empirical distribution of names and gender in the state's entire population of registered voters. We find robust evidence that nominally masculine females are favored over other females. Hence, our results support the Portia Hypothesis.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

Announcement of Faculty Development Initiative

From Ileana Porras, Brown University

International Affairs at Brown University is proud to announce the launch of an exciting new faculty development initiative, the Brown International Advanced Research Institutes (BIARI). The objective of the program is to provide a platform for promising young faculty from the Global South and emerging economies to engage in a high level and sustained intellectual and policy dialogue with leading scholars in their fields, and to foster scholarly networks among young faculty, while providing them with an opportunity to develop their scholarship agendas. This ambitious new program is designed to provide needed professional development opportunities for young scholars embarking on lives in research and teaching. The Brown International Advanced Research Institutes, under the guidance of International Affairs aims to make a significant contribution to global research through transnational academic collaboration, promoting Brown University's vision of the global university.

In June 2009 BIARI will convene the following four Institutes:

(1)Towards a Global Humanities: Critical Traditions from the Global South

This Institute will focus on critical intellectual traditions from the Global South. Discussion and debate will be configured around four main thematic clusters:
Theories from the Global South: sub-altern, post-colonial and black radical thought.
Theorizing Violence
Opening Up Epistemes
Trauma, History, Memory, and Democracy

(2) Law, Social Thought and Global Governance This institute will examine specific areas of law (international economic law; labor; property and land reform; human rights; etc.) from a critical perspective, as well as exploring new approaches to institutional and regulatory structures at the global level.

(3) Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management This Institute will focus on the scholarly field of entrepreneurship and its potential application to business and academic context in the developing world, focusing on technology entrepreneurship and its intersection with both technology innovation and development economics.

(4) Development and Inequality in the Global South This Institute will focus on cutting-edge research and innovative methodologies used to explore, quantify and account for inequality, and promote new thinking about development.

The Institutes will be held at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Each Institute is designed as a residential, intensive two-week long workshop, organized as mix of lectures, round tables, group work, field trips and social interactions. Each will be led by a team of recognized scholars in the field, who have invited world renowned lecturers and speakers to join and participate in the Institute's formal and informal activities. During the Institute participants will be given the opportunity to share and present their work and will have access to Brown University's world class research facilities. (Details of the faculty leaders and the specific program for each Institute are available on the BIARI website at .)

The Brown International Advanced Research Institutes program has been generously funded by Brown University and Santander Universities. Successful applicants will be hosted in University residential housing and all meals will be catered. The program may also be able to provide successful applicants with travel assistance.

The application process for participation in the June 2009 BIARIs is now open through the BIARI website. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis beginning on March 15th, 2009. We are seeking your assistance in identifying promising young scholars who you believe would most benefit from this innovative new program. While there are no specific qualifications required, BIARI will give particular consideration to the applicant's track record in terms of scholarship and teaching. Given the objective of the program, we are particularly interested in your help in identifying promising scholars from the Global South and emerging economies who are in the early stages of their academic careers. In special cases we may also consider mid-career academics whose work is poised to make a significant contribution to the field.

March 23, 2009

Conference Announcement

Sixth Annual IP/Gender: Mapping the Connections
Female Fan Culture and Intellectual Property

American University Washington College of Law’s Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property, Women and the Law Program, and Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law in collaboration with American University's Center for Social Media and The Organization for Transformative Works. Featuring projects and multimedia works reflecting on gender, copyright, fair use, freedom of expression and fan culture.

Here's a link to more information.

March 17, 2009

New Book On Human Rights, the Novel, and International Law From Fordham University Press

Fordham University Press announces the publication of the 2008 ACLA René Wellek Prize Winner

Joseph R. Slaughter, Human Rights, Inc.: The World Novel, Narrative Form, and International Law (2008).
Here are some reviews.

"Human Rights, Inc. is a book of huge erudition that effortlessly
and elegantly combines history, literary theory and political philosophy. Slaughter compellingly argues that human rights operate according to the protocols of the market, turning human suffering and poverty into commodities and preparing their subjects for normalised and disciplined life. In a period when human rights and humanitarianism are used as pretexts for war and imperialism, this is an important book that brilliantly challenges the ruling illusions of the era. "-Costas Douzinas, Birkbeck, University of London, author of Human Rights and Empire

" . . . Seamlessly moves between discussions of philosophy, history, literary criticism, politics, and policy to support an original and compelling argument."
-Journal of Human Rights

436 pages
978-0-8232-2818-8, Paper, $28.00
978-0-8232-2817-1, Cloth, $85.00

Law and Language

Peter Tiersma, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, has published What is Language and Law? And Does Anyone Care? in Law and Language: Theory and Society (Frances Olsen, Alexander Lorz & Dieter Stein, eds.; 2008). Here is the abstract.
There has been growing attention paid recently to the interdisciplinary study of language and law. This article explores the nature and parameters of this relatively new discipline, including its relationship to related areas such as law and semiotics, literature, and forensic linguistics. Although the study of language and law has been advancing, it nonetheless remains a relatively marginal and underappreciated field. The article concludes with some suggestions for making the field more prominent.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

Call For Papers

From Nick Federico, Deans Fellow to Professor Anthony Varona, Professor of Law at the American University, Washington College of Law



American University - Washington College of Law
Washington, D.C.
October 1 - 4, 2009

Please join us at LatCrit XIV, the Fourteenth Annual LatCrit (Latina and Latino
Critical Legal Theory, Inc.) Conference, which will take place in Washington, D.C.,
from Thursday, October 1 through Sunday, October 4, 2009.

LatCrit/SALT Junior Faculty Development Workshop

The Seventh Annual Junior Faculty Development Workshop, sponsored jointly with the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT), will begin at 9:00 am, Thursday, October 1st and continue through Friday morning.



In October 2009, LatCrit will meet inside the Beltway for the first time in its history amidst a tectonic shift in American government. With the January inauguration of President Barack H. Obama, the nation’s first “outsider” president, we also saw the ascendance of a new progressive governance philosophy in Washington. As a biracial former law professor with working class and immigrant roots and an international and multicultural upbringing, Mr. Obama ran a progressive campaign that echoed many core LatCritical values, including internationalism and global-mindedness, the valorization of human rights and multidimensional diversity, the centrality of antidiscrimination work, a commitment to rigorous interrogation of longstanding dominant assumptions and norms, and a preference for discourse and dialogue over militarism. Notably, President Obama’s Yes We Can! campaign slogan has its roots in the ¡Si Se Puede! rallying cry coined by Dolores Huerta of the United Farm Workers movement and invoked in more recent progressive and mostly Latino/a political actions.

The new Presidential administration and enlarged bicameral Democratic majority in Congress account only for part of the historic paradigmatic transition in American national government. The ongoing deterioration of the American and world economies also has catalyzed an aggressive reassessment by moderate and even some conservative thinkers of the wisdom of the Reagan Revolution’s uber alles dependency on the private marketplace for the realization of the public good – an antiregulatory disposition that dominated federal government through the last seven presidential administrations. In the United States, the failure of the government’s dominant antiregulatory disposition to prevent the ensuing economic meltdown has catalyzed a new, aggressive Federal response in the form of much more statist economic interventions, including the de facto nationalization of key economic components. To add irony, it was the administration of President George W. Bush – the loudest in exalting the power of unbridled private marketplaces to regulate themselves – that laid the foundation for the national takeover of large sectors of the financial services and banking industries.

These quantum changes in the leadership and driving philosophies of American government present unique and in some cases unprecedented opportunities for scholars engaged in critical outsider scholarship to influence and inform national policy and legislation. The new executive and legislative branch incumbents have telegraphed early receptivity to the instantiation of LatCritical and other progressive theories and principles in the tangible products of Federal government (i.e., legislation, regulation, presidential directives, and, of course, caselaw). As President Obama’s aspirational campaign continues to transition into the nouveau regime at the helm of the most powerful government on Earth, millions of Americans expect the vague Yes We Can promise to become the Yes We Are reality.

But with these openings come potential pitfalls. Although the ascendance of a putatively progressive president and likeminded Congressional majority indeed may open up new opportunities to bridge the theory/praxis chasm, it also may pose serious challenges to the independence and even legitimacy of progressive critical theory movements. Should the cooption or even distortion of conservative theory by militaristic, extremist partisan politicos serve as a cautionary tale in the formation of new relationships between the progressive government and outsider critical theorists? More specifically, what if the first year in office of the Yes We Can presidential candidate unfolds into more of a No We Won’t disappointment? What if the exigencies of governing to and from the middle – which many pundits insist is the sine qua non for reelection viability – result in the sacrificing of Obama’s progressive promise? What roles should outsider critical legal scholars and their scholarship assume then? More generally, what should the incarnation of progressive theory in the new American regime look like? And what prevents that theory from being co-opted and corrupted by the corroding influences of insider power?

The LatCrit XIV Host Committee invites the submission of proposals for panels and papers related to this open-textured theme and encompassing the fullest array of theoretical and doctrinal topics and approaches. Because we will be in Washington, DC, we encourage the submission of paper and panel proposals propounding prescriptive critiques of discrete areas of law, policy and regulation of specific relevance to outsider communities, including (but by no means limited to) economic justice, international and comparative law, criminal law and the death penalty, civil rights and constitutional law (including gender and LGBT equality, reproductive and disability rights), feminist legal theory, immigration, political and electoral (dis)enfranchisement, communications policy and intellectual property, healthcare, education, employment, tax policy, and the environment. We also, of course, welcome proposals for more theoretical panels and papers, particularly (but not exclusively) in areas linked to the challenges posed by progressive governance and the ascendance of outsiders to positions of ultimate authority.
Please submit your panel and paper proposals through the online process at the LatCrit website ( no later than MONDAY, APRIL 27, 2009. Please note that although paper proposals for work-in-progress sessions may be submitted now, we will continue to accept those proposals through mid-July (please refer to LatCrit website for forthcoming additional details).

Standing LatCrit Themes
LatCrit conferences seek to feature and balance four basic perspectives in organizing each annual conference’s substantive program. These four perspectives are listed as themes below. They have, thus far, served as useful lenses of LatCritical inquiry, enabling LatCrit scholars to develop an impressive body of work that increasingly links issues of identity to the substantive analysis of law, policy and process. This effort to link identity issues to substantive analyses has been particularly fruitful in revealing the way race and ethnicity are implicated precisely in those areas of law and policy that are ordinarily thought not to be about race and ethnicity: for example, in the operations and assumptions of international law and legal process, foreign affairs, liberal democracy, religion and sexuality, to name just a few areas of recent LatCrit attention.
To build on these accomplishments, everyone is encouraged to develop their proposals with a view to: (1) expanding our understanding of the impact of race and ethnicity in substantive areas of law and policy ordinarily thought to be about "something other than race" (e.g. issues of sovereignty, labor rights, globalization, intellectual property, antitrust law); and (2) deepening our analysis of the various ways in which identity issues intersect, conflate and conflict in our self-understandings and coalitional efforts. The following four themes are offered, therefore, as possible points of reference for thinking in new ways about familiar issues (like affirmative action and bilingual education), as well as for encouraging critical forays into new substantive areas (like communications or antitrust laws):
1) Papers or panels that focus on the multidimensionality of Latina/o identity and its relationship to current legal, political and cultural regimes or practices. The ideal is to explicate aspects of the Latina/o experience in legal discourse, both domestically and internationally. Nonetheless, you are free to address identity issues that do not specifically touch upon Latina/o identity or the law.
2) Papers or panels especially salient to this region (the East Coast). Regional emphasis ensures that the Conference's geographic rotation will illuminate local issues, helping us understand how local particularities produce (inter)national patterns of privilege and subordination.
3) Papers or panels that elucidate cross-group histories or experiences with law and power, such as those based on the intersections of class, gender, race, sexuality and religion. In this way, each Conference aims to both elucidate intra-Latina/o diversities and contextualize Latina/o experience within inter-group frameworks and Euro-Heteropatriarchy. Accordingly, we constantly ask how we can create progressive movements, communities and coalitions that meaningfully recognize difference.
4) Papers or panels that connect or contrast LatCrit theory to other genres of scholarship, both within and beyond law and legal theory, including but not limited to the various strands of critical outsider jurisprudence (critical race theory, feminist legal theory, queer legal theory) that critique class, gender, race, sexuality and other categories of social-legal identities and relations.

The Sponsoring Institution – American University Washington College of Law

Founded in 1898, the American University Washington College of Law is the first law school in the world founded by women, Ellen Spencer Mussey and Emma Gillett, who did so in part to combat the de facto exclusion of women from legal education and practice. WCL also was the first law school to have a woman dean and the first to graduate an all female law school class. The law school later expanded its mission to provide more generally opportunities for those historically outside the mainstream of the legal profession.

Today WCL is one of the most diverse law schools in the country, with 1,216 full-time JD students (40% identifying as minorities and 55% women), 160 students in two LLM degree programs and 25 SJD candidates. WCL’s student body includes native speakers of 92 languages and dialects, with almost all nations of the world represented. Its main building at 4801 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, occupies nearly 180,000 square feet over six stories, including the 54,000-square foot Pence Law Library.

WCL’s faculty consists of 61 tenured and tenure-track and over 100 active visiting and adjunct professors engaged in teaching, scholarship and service benefiting a myriad of professional and community institutions and social justice causes. Dr. Claudio Grossman, WCL dean and Raymond I. Geraldson Scholar for International and Humanitarian Law, is the longest serving Latino law school dean in the nation and an active practitioner of international and human rights law, currently serving as the unanimously elected chair of the United Nations Committee against Torture (UNCAT).

The Conference Sites

The LatCrit/SALT Junior Faculty Development Workshop (On Thursday, October 1) and the first full day of the LatCrit Conference (Friday, October 2) will take place in the Conference Center at the Hyatt Regency Bethesda Hotel in Bethesda, Maryland, which also will serve as the primary lodging site for conference attendees. A very accessible and comfortable hotel, the 390-room Hyatt Regency Bethesda offers two full-service restaurants, fully equipped fitness center, in-room broadband Internet access, and spacious conference facilities. The hotel is located at the heart of Downtown Bethesda, a diverse and lively urban center two miles northwest of the Washington, DC, border and three miles from American University. Over 200 restaurants, three live theaters, two cinemas, and several bookstores are within a short walk of the hotel, which sits directly above the Bethesda station on the Metro Red Line, offering rapid, low-cost and high-frequency rail service to Dupont Circle (15 minutes); the National Mall, White House, and Capitol Hill (20 minutes); and Reagan National Airport (30 minutes).

The LatCrit XIV planning committee selected the Hyatt Regency Bethesda in June 2008 after a lengthy and exacting search, and was able to lock in a significantly discounted guestroom rate for LatCrit attendees, comparable to previous LatCrit conference rates, in what is one of the most expensive hotel markets in the nation. Hotel reservation information will be made available, together with conference registration information, in early summer.

Most of the conference events on Saturday, October 3, including several rounds of panels, all work-in-progress workshops, and a community lunch, will take place at the American University Washington College of Law. Free shuttle bus transportation will be available between the hotel and the law school.

March 12, 2009

Shakespeare and Political Legitimacy

Eric Heinze, Queen Mary, University of London School of Law, has published "Heir, Celebrity, Martyr, Monster: Legal and Political Legitimacy in Shakespeare and Beyond," in volume 20 of Law and Critique (2009). Here is the abstract.
The Seventeenth Century places Western political thought on a path increasingly concerned with ascertaining the legitimacy of a determinate individual, parliamentary or popular sovereign. Beginning with Shakespeare, however, a parallel literary tradition serves not to systematise, but to problematise the discourses used to assert the legitimacy with which control over law and government is exercised. This article examines discourses of legal and political legitimacy spawned in early modernity. It is argued that basic notions of 'right', 'duty', 'justice' and 'power' (corresponding, in their more vivid manifestations, to categories of 'heir', 'celebrity', 'martyr' and 'monster') combine in discrete, but always encumbered ways, to generate a variety of legitimating discourses. Whilst transcendentalist versions of those discourses begin to wane, their secular counterparts acquire steadily greater force. In addition to the Shakespearean histories, works of John Milton, Pierre Corneille, Jean Racine, Friedrich Schiller and Richard Wagner are examined, along with some more contemporary or ironic renderings.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

White House Law

Keith A. Rowley, UNLV Law School, has published "In There a Lawyer in the (White) House?: Portraying Lawyers on The West Wing," in Lawyers in Your Living Room!: Law on Television (Michael Asimow ed.; ABA, 2009). Here is the abstract.
Ever since "L.A. Law" burst triumphantly onto the small screen in 1986 and the "Law & Order" franchise was born four years later, shows featuring lawyers have become a staple of American prime time network television. Sadly, many of the shows in which lawyers were or are the central characters -- "Ally McBeal," "The Practice," "Boston Legal," "Shark," "Damages," and, most recently, "Raising the Bar," to name a few -- have depicted lawyers as characatures who appear to be wholly unfamiliar with (and fairly unconcerned about) legal ethics and to view the law as a game to be won or a puzzle to be solved -- sometimes coincidentally for their client's benefit, but mostly for personal satisfaction. Standing in stark contrast to these cynical, self-indulgent, melodrama-prone, pomo-lawyers are those we meet from the White House Counsel's office of fictional President Jed Bartlet during the historic seven-year run of "The West Wing." While several of the show's more central characters -- Chief of Staff Leo McGarry, Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman, Communications Director Toby Ziegler, and Deputy Communications Director Sam Seaborn -- had law degrees, and some had substantial private-practice experience before entering politics, we saw them as policy advisors and political operatives. By contrast, the White House Counsel's office lawyers generally offered advice about matters of law, rather than policy or politics. As such, they are free to check their personal politics -- two of the lawyers featured during the series (Ainsley Hayes and Joe Quincy) were Republicans in a Democractic White House and a third (Lionel Tribbey) was substantially more liberal than the president on a number of issues -- at the door, to serve the president and his senior advisers and to represent the Office of the President.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

March 10, 2009

Carolyn Grose, William Mitchell College of Law, has published 'Once Upon a Time, in a Land Far, Far Away': Lawyers and Clients Telling Stories About Ethics (and Everything Else) , in volume 20 of the Hastings Women's Law Journal (2009). Here is the abstract.
Framed by an analysis of two particular ethical rules and their application to specific situations, this piece uses the metaphor of storytelling to explore the lawyer's role as an effective and ethical client representative. Drawing from the experiences of two sets of clients and their lawyers, the piece proposes an approach to ethical regulation (as one component of the lawyer-client relationship) that requires the lawyer to engage in a deeply contextual analysis of the specific and particular ethical conflicts presented to him in any particular case; and work with his client to determine how to resolve those conflicts.

The first part of the article introduces the stories of these clients as the lawyers came to know them and as the ethical dilemmas unfolded. This section sets the stage for further analysis both of the Rules of Professional Conduct and of the process lawyers undertake to understand and apply those rules. The second part of the paper shifts the focus to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct themselves and tells the stories again, this time in the context of those rules. This second telling reveals that the rules that make up the system of ethical regulation are interpreted to apply to generic, abstract clients in generic, abstract situations.

Drawing on critical lawyering and narrative theory, the third part of the paper proposes an alternative approach to interpreting and resolving ethical conflicts. The article suggests that the system of regulation should be interpreted to allow room for the attorney to consider and incorporate the client's narrative context. Such an approach places the client in the center of the inquiry and requires the lawyer and client to engage actively in dialogue and problem-solving. It allows the lawyer and client together to arrive at solutions that both respond to the particular client's needs, and attend to the moral and ethical concerns the lawyer and society might have. By using a critically reflective, intentional process of inquiry around ethical (and other) concerns, the lawyer must focus on this particular client in the context of his life and his legal/non-legal needs in this particular situation. Such an inquiry results in a widening of the frame of the client's case such that what appear to be intractable and prominent ethical (and other) issues at the outset actually fade into the background as the lawyer and client together either resolve or preempt them completely.

Download the article from SSRN here.

March 6, 2009

Annual Reports: They're For Research Now

Gaetan Breton, University du Quebec (Montreal), has published "Semiotic Analysis of Storytelling in the Annual Report." Here is the abstract.

This paper wants to explore the use of semiotics analysis to better understand the annual report. We start with the idea that the annual report is telling stories to the reader. As a form of novel, we can analyse it with the same instrument.

Our purpose here is methodological. We want to propose an organized body of techniques that will allow anybody to conduct analysis from it. Therefore we use uniquely one example, to illustrate the method.

The advantages of semiotics over content analysis are numerous. Content analysis remains quite trivial (counting words) while semiotics analysis take into account the structure of the story at many levels.

Framed by the categories of the Aristotle's rhetoric, we develop a method that is replicable with a limited background in the source disciplines. Our results suggest that the annual report is clearly telling stories and respond quite positively to this kind of approach.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

What Not To Bare

Erik Jensen of Case Western Reserve Law School makes the case for judicial sartorial minimalism. But what, I ask, does this say about judicial conservatism?

Erik M. Jensen, CWRU Law School, "Under the Robes: A Judicial Right to Bare Arms (and Legs and...)?" in volume 12 of the Green Bag. Here is the abstract.

This essay considers a time-dishonored question: What, if anything, do judges have on under their robes? After serious research and thought, the author concludes that judges are-or, in an economically rational world, should be-minimalists.

Download the article from SSRN here.

March 5, 2009

Law and Art

Alfred L. Brophy, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, School of Law, has published "Property and Progress: Antebellum Landscape Art and Property Law." Here is the abstract.

Landscape art in the antebellum era (the period before the American Civil War, 1861-1865), often depicts the role of humans on the landscape. Humans appear as hunters, settlers, and travelers and human structures appear as well, from rude paths, cabins, mills, bridges, and canals to railroads and telegraph wires. Those images parallel cases, treatises, orations, essays, and fictional literature that discuss property's role in fostering economic and moral development. The images also parallel developments in property doctrine, particularly related to adverse possession, mistaken improvers, nuisance, and eminent domain.

Some of the conflicts in property rights that gripped antebellum thought also appear in paintings, including ambivalence about progress, concern over development of land, and fear of the excesses of commerce. The concerns about wealth, as well as the concerns about the lack of control through law, appear at various points. Other paintings celebrate intellectual, moral, technological, and economic progress. The paintings thus remind us of how antebellum Americans understood property, as they struggled with the changes in the role of property from protection of individual autonomy of the eighteenth century to the promotion of economic growth in the nineteenth century.

Download the paper from SSRN here.
Here's a related post by Professor Brophy.

Summer Study in Osnabrück

From Professor Matt LeMieux, University of Osnabrück, comes news of this summer school program:

Convergences: Law, Language and Culture
First International Osnabrück Summer School on the Cultural Study of the Law


The inaugural International Summer School on the Cultural Study of the Law will be held from August 2nd to August 16th in Osnabrück, Germany. Hosted by the Institute of English and American Studies, in collaboration with the University of Copenhagen, the University of Toronto, and the European Legal Studies Institute at Osnabrück University, the summer school seeks to bring together graduate students from around the world to promote and examine the interdisciplinary study and research of law and culture.

Graduate students pursuing a PhD in the humanities and advanced students of the law who are interested in the interdependence and interaction between law and culture are invited to apply. During the two week program, students will partake in a unique experience of scholarly collaboration and exchange through workshops, public lectures, panel discussions, excursions and a final symposium.

The Summer School will offer four workshops clustered into two broad areas of study. The first cluster of workshops addresses questions of cultural representation, literary aesthetics, and linguistic translation, areas in which interdisciplinary approaches to studying the law have been at the forefront of scholarly discourse over the last three decades. The second group, “Law and Culture: Convergence and Conflict,” explores related issues of human rights, property, and copyright that have gained increasing importance with the rise of globalization.

The 2009 Osnabrück Summer School is meant to be the first of a series of collaborative efforts to establish an international network of younger and established scholars for the interdisciplinary study of law and culture. Students interested in taking part in the Summer School should submit applications no later than May 15, 2009.

Participant Eligibility

Doctoral candidates in literature, the law, the arts, the humanities, and the related social sciences are invited to apply, as are advanced students pursuing a J.D. or its equivalent (such as the L.L.B). Young scholars or junior faculty members who have received a Ph.D. or corresponding degree in the last five years are also eligible. There are openings for approximately 30 students to participate in the summer school.

Application Process

Applicants should complete:

- An application form, indicating preferred workshop cluster, that can be found at:
- A statement of purpose no more than two pages long, describing current scholarly interests, previous research, and plans for how the Summer School would specifically further these interests and plans.
- An up-to-date curriculum vitae.

Detailed information about the school, the workshops, international faculty, admission and fees can be found at:


Questions about the First Osnabrück Summer School on the Cultural Study of the Law may be directed to either one of the Summer School Coordinators:

Devin Zuber, Coordinator for the Humanities, Faculty Contact and Institutional Cooperation.

Matt Lemieux, Coordinator for Legal Studies.

Law, Language and Culture Summer School
Institute for English and American Studies (IfAA)
University of Osnabrück
Neuer Graben 40
49069 Osnabrück / Germany.

March 3, 2009

New Publication: Diversity and Tolerance in Socio-Legal Contexts: Explorations in the Semiotics of Law


Here is the abstract.
Why is there so much resistance to recent issues of tolerance and diversity? Despite efforts of the international community to encourage open-mindedness, recent attempts at international, political and economic integration have shown that religious, cultural and ethnic tolerance and diversity remain under threat. The contributions in the volume reflect the growing importance of these issues and why resistance is so widespread. Part I addresses the relationship between the language of law and its power, whilst Part II explores the interplay of tolerance and diversity under visual, legislative and interpretative perspectives. This collection as a whole offers a combination of varied perspectives on the analysis, application and exploitation of laws and will be a valuable source of information for those interested in the general area of language and the law.

Contents: Foreword, Sophie Cacciaguidi-Fahy; Introduction: the international dual nature of law: tolerance and diversity, Anne Wagner and Vijay K. Bhatia; Part I The Semiotic Foundation of Diversity and Tolerance: Tolerance, pluralism and 'fighting faiths': seeking the sources of US constitutional meaning, Frederick P. Lewis; 'When the law speaks': acts of intolerance, threats to group-identity, and confidence in law and rights, Ira L. Strauber; Mediated semiosis in the courtroom: non-verbal communicators and the usefulness of audio video technology as a tool by which to oversee justice, Isabell Petrinic; The Roma way, Istven H. Szilegyi; 'Une certaine ide de l'homme, une certaine ide de la France': the rhetorical construction of tolerance in French political discourse, Pamela Hobbs; Shifts in the concept of war: new war terminology and its legal consequences, Hanneke van Schooten. Part II Case Analyses of Diversity and Tolerance: Branding Barcelona: semiotic considerations in contemporary sovereignty, John Brigham; Legality beyond the scope of policy, Sarah Marusek; On sight/on site: visuality in native title claims: can we even speak?, Tracey Summerfield and Alec McHoul; Race, class and the Supreme Court: Rodriguez v. San Antonio School Independent School District (1973), William Pencak; Legal terms across communities: divergence behind convergence in law, Le Cheng and King Kui Sin; Women as legal subjects and objects in contemporary China, Deborah Cao; Conclusion: researching exploration in the semiotics of the law, Christopher N. Candlin; Bibliography; Index

March 2, 2009

Picket Fences

Lance McMillian, John Marshall Law School (Atlanta), has published "All Roads Lead to Rome, Wisconsin: Judge Henry Bone, Douglas Wambaugh, and the Strange World of Picket Fences," in Lawyers in Your Living Room! Law on Television (Michael Asimow, ed. ABA, 2009). Here is the abstract.

This is a book chapter appearing in LAWYERS IN YOUR LIVING ROOM! LAW ON TELEVISION (Michael Asimov ed. 2009). The book is published by the ABA, which retains the copyright. This chapter analyzes the lawyers on the television drama Picket Fences, which won two Emmys for Best Drama in the early 1990s. The chapter compares and contrasts the approaches toward the law and lawyering of Judge Henry Bone and Douglas Wambaugh. Set in the small town of Rome, Wisconsin, Bone and Wambaugh face off on the great issues of the day: euthanasia, polygamy, transsexuality, gay adoption, separation of church and state, racial busing, animal abuse, the rights of dentists with the HIV virus, the presence of sex offenders in the community, temporary insanity by reason of menopause, and all manner of bizarre fetishes (to name one, sexual arousal through bath toys). Along the way, they confront colorful characters such as the Tin Man, the Frog Man, the Potato Man, an elephant-stealing circus dwarf, a transsexual set to play the Virgin Mary in the town's Christmas play, and many others. The success of Picket Fences can be attributed to its ability to show us the best and worst parts of ourselves. The portrayals of Bone and Wambaugh play prominent parts in revealing this glimpse of humanity.

Download the chapter at SSRN here.

Montesquieu and the Supreme Court

Nelson Lund, George Mason University School of Law, has published "Montesquieu, Judicial Degeneracy, and the United States Supreme Court," as George Mason Law & Economic Research Paper 09-12. Here is the abstract.
This essay, which is aimed primarily but not exclusively at audiences in the field of philosophy, originated in a lecture prepared for a series on "Natural Moral Law and Contemporary Society" at the School of Philosophy of the Catholic University of America. Using the Supreme Court's sodomy and abortion decisions as introductory examples, the essay briefly discusses the roots of judicial hubris in American constitutional law. The essay then looks more deeply into an institutional transformation rooted in Montesquieu's insight that it is both necessary and impossible to de-politicize the judicial function. The politically moderating role performed by judges in Montesquieu's English constitution does not translate easily into the American system of written constitutions with judicial review. The essay argues that the U.S. Supreme Court is not qualified to correct written human law through appeals to higher laws, including the natural moral law, and that this conclusion is consistent with the understanding of law both in our Constitution and in St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica.

Download the paper from SSRN here.