November 26, 2008

Call For Papers

American University Washington College of Law

IP/Gender: Mapping the Connections

6th Annual Symposium

April 24, 2009

Special Theme: Female Fan Cultures and Intellectual Property

Sponsored by
American University Washington College of Law’s

Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property

Women and the Law Program

Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law

In collaboration with

American University’s Center for Social Media

The Organization for Transformative Works

Rebecca Tushnet, Georgetown University

Francesca Coppa, Muhlenberg College

Deadline for submission of abstracts: December 19, 2008

The 6th Annual Symposium on “IP/Gender: Mapping the Connections” seeks papers on female subcultures and their relationship to intellectual property and copyright regimes, with a particular emphasis on fan works and culture. Appropriate topics include: fan arts, including fan fiction, arts, music, filk, crafts, and vids; and fan communities: including clubs, forums, lists, websites, wikis, discussion groups, rec sites, and other creative, celebratory, or analytical communities.

Introduction & Context

Historically, the study of subcultures has been biased toward male groups and activities: first, because male activities (e.g. punk rock, motorcycling, football hooliganism) tend to be public, and therefore visible; second, because many male groups have been seen as overtly resistant to mainstream norms. In contrast, many female subcultural activities took place in private, in the domestic realm or in other less visible spaces, and those that were visible tended, in the words of Sarah Thornton, to be "relegated to the realm of a passive and feminized 'mainstream' (a colloquial term against which scholars have all too often defined their subcultures)"; in other words, the things women did and do have often been framed as mainstream, passive, commodified, and derivative; consuming (in the negative sense of passive product consumption), rather than consuming in the sense of a passionate obsession or devotion to art or criticism.

This has changed significantly in the last twenty years, not only due to a rising feminist interest in subculture studies but also with the rise of fan and audience studies. In their pioneering "Girls and Subcultures" (1975), Angela McRobbie and Jenny Garber presciently suggested that scholars turn their attention "toward more immediately recognizable teenage and pre-teenage female spheres like those forming around teenybop stars and the pop-music industry." Even they had trouble seeing what girls do as interesting and importing, noting that "[b]oys tended to have a more participative and a more technically-informed relationship with pop, where girls in contrast became fans and readers of pop-influenced love comics." McRobbie and Garber don't associate being "fans" with participation, and they see girls as "readers" only. In fact, as we know from fifteen years of fan and audience studies, fandom is a highly participatory culture, and female fans also write, edit, draw, paint, "manip," design, code, and otherwise make things.

However, even within this brave new world of mashup, remix, and fan cultures, what boys do (fan films, machinima, music mash-ups, DJing) is often seen by outsiders and critics as better--more interesting, more original, more clearly transformative-- than what girls do (fan fiction, fan art, vidding, coding fan sites, social networking). This normative judgment risks legal consequences.

We are seeking projects (including papers, installations, artwork, video and multimedia presentations) that investigate the ways in which issues of originality and ownership as related to copyright and other issues of intellectual property intersect with this gendered understanding of cultural productions and engagement, especially since these historically female subcultural activities and practices have increasingly become culture.

IP/Gender Mapping the Connections Organizational Details
· DEADLINE for submission of abstracts is DECEMBER 19 at 5:00pm.
· To submit an abstract or project description for consideration, fill in the web-based form at . Participants will be notified if their project has been accepted for presentation by January 15. Selected presentations will be eligible for travel scholarships to attend the conference.

· The symposium will begin at 6:00 Thursday, April 23, 2009 at the American University Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C. The symposium will convene from 9:00 am until 4:00 pm on Friday, April 24, 2009.

· To view programs from prior IP/Gender: Mapping the Connections symposia, please visit

· Papers may be published in the American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law.

· If you are interested in attending the event, but not presenting work, please contact Angie McCarthy, Women and the Law Program Coordinator at for details.

November 21, 2008

A Blog On Crime Fiction and Writing

If you like, or are interested in trying to write crime fiction, check out the blog Hey There's a Dead Guy in the Living Room, written by a writer, a publisher, an agent, a book reviewer, a bookshop owner, an editor, and a p.r. person. They're all alive, and in your (virtual) living room, and in your conservatory, and in your library....

November 20, 2008

A Draft Syllabus For a Course in Law and Literature

Simon Stern, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, has published "Law and Literature Seminar, Draft Syllabus." Here is the abstract.

This is a draft syllabus for an introductory seminar on law and literature. Courses in this area tend to focus primarily (often exclusively) on literary texts. My view is that literature can be more productively studied in a law school setting when literary and legal materials are placed next to each other. This approach does not treat law as the taken-for-granted backdrop that students already know, but instead makes explicit the similarities and differences between the two areas. Among other things, this approach may help to remind law students of what they know but easily forget - that what they have already learned about the law in their other classes is not inevitably alien to the qualities of literary writing and analysis. In that way, the course is not an effort to re-educate law students by illustrating passions and qualities that are presumptively absent from the rest of law school, but is instead designed to show how legal modes of thought are sometimes already present in literary texts and vice versa. To that end, my syllabus combines literary readings, literary criticism, judicial opinions, and legal scholarship.

These materials are a work in progress, and I welcome suggestions concerning new readings and new juxtapositions of literary and legal texts and scholarship.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

Call For Papers

Call for Papers: Special Issue of Utopian Studies on Law and Utopia
Guest Editor: Peter Sands, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Utopias are prescriptive, normative alternatives to already existing societies. Thomas More, himself a lawyer, envisioned a society free from lawyers and with few positive laws, and that trope has since made frequent appearance in utopias and dystopias. But, like all societies, utopias depend on rules and rule-making—they are societies of laws.

Law itself, too, is a utopian expression, an attempt to shape a particular vision of society. Such visions enact conflicts between and among competing views of rights, duties, punishment, redemption, distribution, and nearly every other aspect of human life. Zoning laws describe someone’s desired organization of space and industry. Constitutions write into being a normative alternative to the society that exists before the constitution takes effect. Positive law presents a normatively different belief system from natural law, carrying implications for societal organization.

In fiction and film, utopian and dystopian expression addresses fundamental jurisprudential issues of good and evil, of right and wrong, of rights proper, of economics, criminality, state power and more. A Handmaid’s Tale dramatizes, for example, conflicts over reproductive rights; The Dispossessed juxtaposes anarchist, capitalist, and socialist societies. Soylent Green and Zardoz imagine wholly alternate legal structures and their consequences.

For this special issue of Utopian Studies we invite papers on any aspect of law and utopia.

Deadline: complete drafts by 31 May 2009.


All submissions should be sent to:

Utopian Studies
Department of English
University of Alaska Anchorage
3211 Providence Drive
Anchorage, AK 99508
Inquiries about the special issue to: Peter Sands

November 17, 2008

Lawyer Ethics In Popular Culture

Michael Asimow, University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law, and Richard Weisberg, Yeshiva University, Cardozo School of Law, have published "When the Lawyer Knows the Client is Guilty: Client Confessions in Legal Ethics, Popular Culture, and Literature," forthcoming in the Southern University Interdisciplinary Law Journal. Here is the abstract.

This article concerns a classic puzzle in legal ethics: what should a criminal defense lawyer do when the lawyer is certain that the client is factually guilty (usually because the client confessed to the lawyer), but the client insists on an all-out defense? Legal ethicists have struggled with this problem since the Courvoisier case in 1840, but it remains unresolved. This article draws a distinction between strong and weak adversarialism and explains how these two normative positions guide a lawyer's tactical decisionmaking. The article suggests that lawyers should have discretion to choose between the strong and weak positions, depending on context and their personal conscience. Both popular culture and great literature provide interesting perspectives on the strong vs. weak adversarialism dilemma. According to numerous films, television shows and novels, the right answer to the lawyer's dilemma is no adversarialism at all. The good lawyer should betray evil clients to insure that the truth is discovered. Pop culture's no-adversarialism model is a universe few lawyers would care to inhabit but which reflects popular views on the relationship of lawyering to truth. Literature casts doubt on whether a lawyer can know with certainty whether a client is telling the truth. It presents numerous models of successful strong adversarialists and unsuccessful weak adversarialists. Few literary lawyers manage to be both skilled advocates and decent human beings.

Download the article from SSRN here.

Call For Papers

Posted on behalf of Ruth Ann Robbins, Rutgers-Camden School of Law

Once Upon a Legal Time, Chapter Two: Applied Storytelling in Law

Lewis & Clark Law School; Portland, Oregon July 22-24, 2009


We are pleased to issue this Call for Proposals for the second biennial

international Applied Storytelling Conference. The deadline is December 8,

2008. Building on the success of the first conference, held in London in 2007,

this conference seeks to foster collaboration and dialogue about the skill of

storytelling in law and about teaching storytelling and other skills to law

students and practitioners. This conference will bring together academics,

judges, and practitioners to explore the role of narrative in legal practice and

curricular strategies that will prepare students to use story and narrative as

they enter the practice of law.

Potential topics on the role of narrative in the practice of law may include

(but please, feel free to be creative):

-using storytelling in litigation or transactional work or in legislative


-the process of creating compelling legal stories as part of best practices;

-examining current models used to teach storytelling skills in education

and/or practice;

-narrative and negotiation;

-the place of storytelling in legal reasoning;

-differentiating between stories and narratives and the uses of each;

-comparative storytelling in legal systems;

-the ethical limits of storytelling, whether with clients lawyers or judges;

Selected papers from the 2007 conference were published in two journals: 43

The Law Teacher (Thomson, 2007); and 14 Legal Writing: The Journal of the

Legal Writing Institute (LexisNexis, 2008). Volume 14 of Legal Writing is

available on-line at


The conference will include 45-60 minute presentations as well as roundtable

discussions. Proposals may indicate a preference for format. We also

encourage people to present works in progress for feedback.

Proposal Submissions

The deadline for submissions is December 8, 2008. Submissions should be

made on the attached Submission Form and should be sent, preferably

electronically, to:

Prof. Steve Johansen, Lewis & Clark Law School,

10015 SW Terwilliger Blvd., Portland, OR 97219

Logistical Details

Proposal Format: Please include a cover sheet, the form of which appears at

the end of this document, plus a description or narrative. Proposal narratives

can be as short as a few paragraphs but please do not exceed 2-3 pages of text

including whatever partial or full bibliography you attach.

Please make sure that your contact email address is included in the body of

the proposal. That is how we will be communicating with you.

Selection Process: After all proposals are received, the Conference Program

Committee will review all proposals. Submitters of successful proposals will

be notified of acceptances by January 15, 2009.

When and Where: The conference will take place from Wednesday, July 22

(opening reception) to Friday, July 24, 2009(closing dinner) at Lewis and

Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. The School is a short ride from

downtown Portland, nestled on the edge of Tryon Creek State Park.

Transportation to and from the conference hotel will be provided.

Costs to Participants: Final conference costs have not been finalized. We

anticipate the conference fee to be approximately $350.

Housing: We have reserved blocks of rooms at the Heathman Hotel

($179/night), and the Downtown Marriott Hotel ($149/night). Both hotels are

in the heart of pedestrian-friendly downtown Portland. For more details on

the hotels, please visit their websites:

This conference is made possible through the generous support of the Legal

Writing Institute and Lewis and Clark Law School.

Proposal for the 2nd Applied Storytelling conference

Please include the following information as part of a one-page cover sheet

submitted with the proposal. You don’t have to submit this page of the call for

proposals (i.e. we know that you are seeing it in pdf and we aren’t asking you

to reproduce the page borders, etc.). Using your letterhead or a plain

document is fine.

Title of Proposed Program:

Name of Presenter (contact person for panel presentation):

Affiliated organization:

Contact info including E-mail

(Email is how we will mostly communicate)

Additional presenters, if applicable:

Program Summary:

[Please include on your cover sheet your short summary of the presentation

for the conference brochure. Summaries are generally 2-3 sentences].

Proposal Narrative:

[please limit this to no more than 2 pages, single spaced].

November 16, 2008

Call For Papers

From the Stetson Law Review

In December 2009 the Stetson Law Review will publish a symposium issue on law, literature, and film. Articles may focus on literature, film, or both; short fiction and poetry will also be considered. Regarding proposed submissions, please contact Robert Batey, the faculty coordinator of the symposium issue, at or (after December 1st) at 727-562-7852. Final submissions must be received by June 2009.

November 14, 2008

Lyrics and Law

Camille Nelson, Saint Louis University School of Law, has published "Lyrical Assault: Dancehall Versus the Cultural Imperialism of the North-West," at 17 Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal 231 (2008). Here is the abstract.
This article examines Jamaican Dancehall music's implications and international perceptions and explores a possible legal remedy for what has been dubbed "Murder Music." The impact of Jamaican Dancehall, the equivalent of American Hip-Hop, its lyrics and history upon Jamaica and the North-West are put into context and interrogated through the lens of cultural studies. Homophobic lyrics have triggered international boycotts and bans of this music and its artists. Despite the fact that Dancehall lyrics are perceived as violent, anti gay, anti-women, and very masculinist, international condemnation is based exclusively upon the homophobic lyrics. This article analyzes the implications of this ban and situates the international response within a masculinist colonial context. Specifics issues discussed include whether the colonization of Jamaica and the codification of its "Offenses against the Person Act" play a role in the propagation of homophobic lyrics, and why it is that Jamaica was criticized as one of the "most homophobic places on earth," given the anti-same sex marriage backlash in the United States and the fact of extreme instances of homophobia in many countries. While this article condemns homophobic lyrics and suggests the discontinuation of their use, it situates Jamaican homophobia as a vestige of colonial prerogatives and urges the abandonment of homophobia as the right thing to do and as a post-colonial move towards true independence.

Download the article from SSRN here.

November 12, 2008

Shakespeare and Sovereignty

P. G. Monateri, University of Turin, School of Law, has published "Sovereign Ambiguity - From Hamlet to Benjamin via Eliot and Schmitt." Here is the abstract.
The Author examines how Romantic Ambiguity lies at the heart of the legal notion of Sovereignty, applying a law and literature approach to notions developed by Benjamin and Carl Schmitt.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

November 7, 2008

Robert Tsai's Eloquence and Reason

Professor Robert Tsai (American University, Washington College of Law), who previously guest blogged here in January 2006, has just published Eloquence and Reason: Creating a First Amendment Culture (Yale University Press, Nov. 2008). According to the back cover blurb:
This provocative book presents a theory of the First Amendment’s development. During the twentieth century, Americans gained trust in its commitments, turned the First Amendment into an instrument for social progress, and exercised their rhetorical freedom to create a common language of rights. Robert L. Tsai explains that the guarantees of the First Amendment have become part of a governing culture and nationwide priority. Examining the rhetorical tactics of activists, presidents, and lawyers, he illustrates how committed citizens seek to promote or destabilize a convergence in constitutional ideas. Eloquence and Reason reveals the social and institutional processes through which foundational ideas are generated and defends a cultural role for the courts.

I've read a few chapters of this book earlier on, and I highly recommend it. Robert Tsai's work is always interesting and thought-provoking. He writes beautifully, and he demonstrates with great insight how rhetoric influences constitutional law.

From a blurb on the back cover by Professor Mark Tushnet (Harvard Law School): "A provocative meditation on the ways the metaphors used in constitutional doctrine empower, limit, create, and recreate the public over which the written Constitution is said to assert authority. Intriguing case studies arise from the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the Christian Right of the 1980s, and the attacks on Jehovah's Witnesses in the 1940s."

November 5, 2008

Michael Crichton Dies

Author Michael Crichton has died. The physician and author (Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain, Coma) was 66.

The CSI Effect

Donald E. Shelton, Eastern Michigan University, has published "The 'CSI Effect': Does it Really Exist?" in volume 259 of the National Institute of Justice Journal (2008). Here is the abstract.
Many attorneys, judges, and journalists have claimed that watching television programs like CSI has caused jurors to wrongfully acquit guilty defendants when no scientific evidence has been presented. This so-called effect was promptly dubbed the "CSI effect," laying much of the blame on the popular television series and its progeny. This study of 1027 jurors found that 46 percent expected to see some kind of scientific evidence in every criminal case; 22 percent expected to see DNA evidence in every criminal case; 36 percent expected to see fingerprint evidence in every criminal case; and 32 percent expected to see ballistic or other firearms laboratory evidence in every criminal case. The findings also suggested that expectations for particular types of scientific evidence seemed to be rational based on the type of case.

For all categories of evidence CSI viewers generally had higher expectations than non-CSI viewers but the CSI viewers had higher expectations about scientific evidence that was more likely to be relevant. Interestingly, potential jurors' increased expectations of scientific evidence did not translate into a demand for this type of evidence as a prerequisite for finding someone guilty. Jurors were more likely to find a defendant guilty than not guilty even without scientific evidence if the victim or other witnesses testified, except in the case of rape. On the other hand, if the prosecutor relied on circumstantial evidence, the prospective jurors said they would demand some kind of scientific evidence before they would return a guilty verdict.

There was scant evidence in our survey results that CSI viewers were either more or less likely to acquit defendants without scientific evidence. Only 4 of 13 scenarios showed significant differences between viewers and non-viewers on this issue, and they were inconsistent. In the "every crime" scenario, CSI viewers were more likely to convict without scientific evidence if eyewitness testimony was available. In rape cases, CSI viewers were less likely to convict if DNA evidence was not presented.

In both the breaking-and-entering and theft scenarios, CSI viewers were more likely to convict if there was victim or other testimony, but no fingerprint evidence. Although CSI viewers had higher expectations for scientific evidence than non-CSI viewers, these expectations had little, if any, bearing on the respondents' propensity to convict.
Download the article from SSRN here.

Other scholars and commentators have written about the "CSI Effect." Here are some citations.

Stefan Lovgren, CSI Effect Is Mixed Blessing
Kit D. Roane, The CSI Effect
Jeffrey Toobin, The CSI Effect