December 29, 2009

Call For Papers

From Anne Wagner, Editor, International Journal for the Semiotics of Law

We live in a world of rapid global changes, which we nonetheless seek to understand with reference to general concepts. This world of change can be described in many different ways by taking account of a variety of factors. Among these we can distinguish a specific world-wide tendency for democratization, with social, individual and political dimensions. As some have pointed out, there are very few political orders today that would not claim to be democratic.

This peculiar global trend however gives rise to questions as well as problems, the most important of which seems to concern the question whether the “democratic turn” is real or virtual. Democracy generally means government by the people. Does this then mean that any kind of government by the people can claim to be democratic, or is democracy a more limited concept? What – if any – are the normative requirements of democracy? Democracy, after all, is not simply a descriptive model of government; it is a deeply rooted preference and hence functions as normative blueprint, often expressed in founding principles. Democracy is thus a thoroughly normative model. At the same time, it is constructed and finds expression in different ways in different times and places.

Does this mean that democracy, as a normative project, is such only for a certain section of the world and not for sections that believe in different gods, philosophies or value systems? Perhaps democratic principles are to be understood from a rational, secular value perspective (post-Weberian values) as formal frameworks that give people the possibility to fill them in with their own convictions of the preferred norms that should be obeyed in the name of equality and freedom. Does democracy not however imply a specific form of civic engagement and participation? Does democracy not also entail self-expression based on autonomy? Democracy does appear to give expression to post-traditional values which are not as yet dominant throughout the world. For this reason the further question arises as to the legal nature of a democratic political order. Are - following Sir Neil MacCormick - normative order, institutional normative order and institutional order three different kinds of order, do they overlap, or do they perhaps have the same source that keeps dividing itself into different orders?

Should morally impartial legal rules be the regarded as the most important or perhaps as the only support for peace in a pluralistic world? But then, rephrasing somewhat Ronald Dworkin’s question, we can ask how – if at all – democracy is possible here?

* * *

The 9th International Roundtable for the Semiotics of Law invites all those who are interested in problems concerning Legal Rules, Moral Norms and Democratic Principles to take part in our roundtable discussion in Poznań (Poland). The perspective adopted by participants – whether purely semiotic, legal, philosophical, sociological, cultural, sociolinguistic etc. – can be freely chosen by each participant.

We invite everyone interested in participating in The 9th International Roundtable for the Semiotics of Law to send us an abstract by the 1st of May 2010. It should be prepared in either English or French (max 300 words) and sent by e-mail to;; and to Anne Wagner at .

Selected papers will be published in a special annual issue of the International Journal for the Semiotics of Law (

Anne Wagner, Ph. D., Université du Littoral Côte d'Opale (France)

Research Professor, China University of Political Science and Law (Beijing)

December 16, 2009

Gary Watt's Equity Stirring: The Story of Justice Beyond Law

A wonderful, densely written book that you shouldn't miss: Gary Watt's Equity Stirring: The Story of Justice Beyond Law (Hart Publishing, 2009).

Says Professor Watt in his introduction, "I start with titles, because one of the aims of this book is to explore the potential of a cultural discourse, based on equity, to resist a culture of entitlement, based on rights. The inscription of title and entitlement, but the process is fundamentally erroneous and calls for equity's correction, since a mere title can never express the whole truth."

The author plays with language and ideas throughout the work, instructing and guiding and leading us along the way in an invigorating adventure through the philosophy of law, literature, cases (e.g., the Earl of Oxford's case), the history of law, law and gender, and then "gets down to cases:" for example, Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. I found the extensive discussion of the many meanings of chancery (chapter 3: Chancery Script) of particular interest. Watt races from Charles Dickens to Sir Edward Coke and weaves from literature to law with astounding ease. It's a star turn, and a volume that one can re-read profitably.

Lots of footnotes, an amazing bibliography.

[NB: The publisher sent me this free copy.]

Call For Papers

Savage Thoughts: Interdisciplinarity and the Challenge of Claude Lévi-Strauss

Institute for the Public Life of Arts and Ideas McGill University, Montréal
24-26 September 2010


Claude Lévi-Strauss was one of the great interdisciplinary writers of the twentieth century whose influence has been felt far beyond his home discipline of anthropology. His inquiry illuminated the border lands between primitive and non-primitive, self and other, myth and history, human and animal, art and nature, and the dichotomies that give structure to culture. At the same time his method troubled those borders and dichotomies, through the bricolage he adopted that illuminated connections amongst literature, art, psychology, music, religion, and law.

Our call for ‘savage thoughts’ seeks out new work influenced by this inquiry and these methods, and reflections on Levi-Strauss’ legacy across the whole range of the humanities and beyond, including—

1) Recent interdisciplinary research in the reception, critique, and development, of Lévi-Strauss’ work. How have these inquiries been transformed in recent years? Are the children of Lévi-Strauss as savage as he?

2) Consideration of Lévi-Strauss’ larger intellectual influence, explicit or otherwise, right across the humanities. Perhaps there is something savage at the heart of interdisciplinary thought itself—refusing to be tamed by the intellectual borders of a discipline, it forages at will. Where has Lévi-Strauss’ method spawned such wildness and hybridity?

3) Looking beyond the academy to consider how Lévi-Strauss’ ideas have embedded themselves in the culture, values, social organization, and framework of modern society. What is the public life and impact of these ideas? In what ways has our world been altered by his mode of apprehending it?

Conference organizers invite papers that address the borderlands between a wide range of disciplines including, but not limited to Anthropology, Architecture, Art History, Communications, History, Law, Linguistics, Literature, Human Geography, Musicology, Philosophy, Psychology, Religious Studies, Semiotics, and Sociology. Proposals for single papers in English or French as well as for complete panels are welcome. In either instance, abstracts for 15-20 minute papers should be c.200 words, and accompanied by a brief (2-page) CV. Proposals for complete panels should also include a short explanation of the panel theme. Please send proposals as electronic files (in .doc, .docx, or .pdf format) to no later than 15 March 2010.

Conference website:
Conference registration will open 15 April 2010. Registration details, including fees information are on the website.

The Institute for the Public Life of Arts and Ideas at McGill University is committed to understanding how the arts (literature, painting, film, theatre, music, industrial and artistic design, architecture) and new ideas come into being in a range of settings (schools, the law courts, markets, the Web, the book trade, state institutions) and in relation to social, cultural, and institutional practices. It also strives to understand how art and ideas are able to transform the private world of the individual, the greater world of public matters, and the interactivity between the two.

December 15, 2009

AALS Section On Law and the Humanities Focuses on "Reasoning From Literature" at 2010 Conference

From Jessica Silbey, news of this year's AALS Section on Law and the Humanities
2010 AALS Conference, New Orleans

Reasoning from Literature

The “literary turn” in legal studies manifests in many ways in our legal discipline and practice. Be it with the birth of the study of law and literature in the 1980s, the growing attention to narrative theory and storytelling in the law in the 1990s, or the “cultural turn” in legal studies in the 21st century (as some scholars have called the cultural analysis of law), reasoning from literature seems commonplace. And yet it feels still marginalized in legal studies, as not “really law,” and lacking the core persuasive power that legal argumentation and doctrinal analysis do. This panel has been put together to wrestle with what it means to “reason from literature” and to contest the boundaries between legal reasoning and literary logic. Proceedings to be published in the Yale Journal of Law and Humanities, Winter 2010.

Program Chair: Jessica Silbey, Suffolk University Law School
Section Chair: David Ritchie, Mercer
Chair Elect: Angela Onwuachi-Willig, Iowa

Jessica Silbey
Associate Professor of Law
Suffolk University Law School
Boston, MA 02108

December 8, 2009

Matriculate At Lost U: Low Tuition, Lots of Relevance, High Fun Factor

The Chronicle of Higher Education's Wired Campus Blog has this piece about Lost University, a project of the folks over at ABC's Lost, which links the show's content to, well, the real world. Real class materials include Bluray discs of the show, and you won't get any spoilers. Rats. First semester offerings include a course on time travel by a physics prof at USC, philosophy from other USC profs, and hieroglyphics from a UCLA professor.

Here's more from the Los Angeles Times.

Nicholas Warner, who teaches the physics course, told the Chronicle,
“There used to be huge disconnect (sic) between watching television shows and academic investigation. Anything that provides channels to follow up questions is a wonderful thing.”

Now, Professor Warner is right--building bridges between the two cultures is indeed a wonderful thing. But I think academics have been building those bridges for a while now. College courses (and graduate school courses) integrating popular culture and everything else, including law, have been around for a while now, as have books about tv shows and films in which academics study the impact of popular culture (think about all those books about the meaning of Star Trek). I think the "disconnect" vanished into a black hole some time ago. What's different about this enterprise (ha!) is that it's a joint project between the show and academia.

Juries and Narrative

John M. Conley, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, School of Law, and Robin H. Conley, UCLA Department of Anthropology, have published "Stories from the Jury Room: How Jurors Use Narrative to Process Evidence," at 49 Studies in Law, Politics, & Society 25 (2009). Here is the abstract.
This paper analyzes the ways in which jurors use everyday storytelling techniques in their deliberations. It begins by reviewing the literature on how jurors receive and process evidence, emphasizing narrative and storytelling. It then presents some new, qualitative linguistic data drawn from actual jury deliberations, which shed light on jurors' standards of evidence and proof, as well as on the persuasive tactics they use in dealing with each other. Although these data are limited, they provide an interesting basis for assessing existing ideas about jury evidence-processing and thinking more broadly about the strengths and weaknesses of the jury system.

Download the article at the link.

December 7, 2009

More Law and Baseball

And it's back.

Aaron Zelinksy, Yale Law School, is publishing "The Justice as Commissioner: Benching the Judge-Umpire Analogy," in Yale Law Journal Online. Here's the abstract.
Chief Justice Roberts has repeatedly compared the role of a Supreme Court Justice to that of a baseball umpire, and this analogy has assumed a prominent place in the contemporary debate over the appropriate role of a Supreme Court Justice. This paper traces the history of the judge-umpire analogy since its first judicial invocation in 1886, finding that it was originally intended for trial court judges. Moreover, courts historically invoked the analogy as an illustrative foil to be rejected because of the umpire’s passivity. In place of the judge-umpire analogy, this paper propose that the appropriate analog for a Justice of the Supreme Court is the Commissioner of Major League Baseball. Both Supreme Court Justices and Major League Baseball Commissioners fulfill four critical characteristics which separate them from trial court judges and umpires: they provide interpretive guidance to subordinates, undertake extended deliberation, take countermajoritarian action, and wield substantial rule-making power.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

Law and Baseball

Ross E. Davies, George Mason University School of Law, has published "It’s No Game: The Practice and Process of the Law in Baseball, and Vice Versa," in Seton Hall Journal of Sports and Entertainment (forthcoming). Here is the abstract.

It is a commonplace that the relationship between baseball and the law is a long and close one. But, first, is it true? And, second, if it is, just how long and how close? Strangely, given the large amount of good work produced by able scholars of baseball and the law, concrete answers to these basic questions are not readily available. This article is a first step toward filling that gap. It is a sketch of the length, breadth, and depth of the relationship between baseball and the law. (In order to tell a less-than-interminable tale, this article mostly tilts back and forth between recent years – evidence of the vibrancy of the baseball-law relationship today – and the late 19th and early 20th centuries – evidence that it has been vibrant for a long time – and deals only sketchily even with those periods. This should not be taken to mean that the baseball-law relationship was any less interesting at other times, or that there isn’t much more to be said about all times.) As should be clear by the end of this article, the answer to the first question is an emphatic and certain “Yes”: baseball and the law are close and have been for a long time. The answer to the second question, however, is an equally emphatic but far less certain “Very”: while there surely are both unrecognized extents and unmarked limits to the law-baseball relationship, we cannot define them without a fuller inventory and chronology – an old-fashioned digest – of the thousands upon thousands of events that make up the history of baseball and the law. Perhaps this article can serve as the kernel of such a project.

[I don't normally blog articles about law and baseball, but I'm branching out].

Tax and Shakespeare

Ellen P. Aprill, Loyola Law School (Los Angeles, has published "A Tax Lawyer's Interpretation of Shakespeare," at 13 ABA Section of Taxation News Quarterly 13 (Fall 2009). Here is the abstract.

Shakespeare has been quoted and invoked in numerous contexts, but, inexplicably, the insights his immortal words bring to tax law have been ignored. This short and lighthearted piece begins to fill that gap. Expanding on my remarks in accepting the 2009 Dana Latham Memorial Award from the Los Angeles County Bar Association Taxation Section, I discuss quotations from Shakespeare’s plays that illuminate important tax doctrines.

Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

Aprill. What an auspicious name for a tax professor.

December 3, 2009

Law in "Titus Andronicus"

Paul Raffield, University of Warwick School of Law, has published "'Terras Astraea reliquit’: Titus Andronicus and the Loss of Justice," in Shakespeare and the Law (Paul Raffield and Gary Watt eds.; Hart 2008) at 203-220). Here is the abstract.

This paper considers the constitutional and political significance of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, in the context of fin-de-siècle Elizabethan rule, during which period the jurisdiction of the prerogative courts threatened to supersede that of the courts of common law. I examine juristic belief in the existence of an unwritten law, superior in authority to imperial edict: a theme which resonates throughout Titus, but which also underscores The Reports of Sir Edward Coke, which he was compiling in the 1590s. I analyse also the symbolic importance of ancient Rome to the development in England of a body of literature that might loosely be termed republican. The story of the destruction of Troy and its re-emergence in London as Troynovant is a literary device that was employed by Elizabethan writers as a means of establishing the ancient credentials of the English state and English common law.

Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

December 2, 2009

Contract Law in the Comedy of Errors

Paul Raffield, University of Warwick School of Law, has published "The Comedy of Errors and the Meaning of Contract," in Shakespeare's Imaginary Constitution: Late Elizabethan Politics and the Theatre of Law (3 Law and Humanities (2009)). Here is the abstract.

This article examines the theme of contract and its symbolic connotations of societas or fellowship, in the context of Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors and its performance on 28 December at the Gray’s Inn revels of Christmas 1594. Central to the argument is the extraordinary advancement of contract law in Elizabethan England, and in particular the significance of the promise to the status of binding bilateral agreements. In particular, the analysis considers the promotion of assumpsit at the expense of actions for debt in relation to a society (and a legal profession) whose mores were heavily influenced by humanist notions of the individual conscience, which simultaneously bound the subject of law into an ethical association with his fellow citizens and freed him (at least putatively) from the constraints of immutable, ancient law. The Comedy of Errors provides a perceptive critique of a society which is bound together only by the market, having abandoned or mislaid the true bonds of friendship and love, through which a just community may be recognised.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

November 30, 2009

Religious Leaders and Constitutional Law

John M. Kang, St. Thomas University School of Law, has published "Appeal to Heaven: On the Religious Origins of the Constitutional Right of Revolution," at 18 William & Mary Bill of Rights 281 (2009). Here is the abstract.

This Article explores the religious origins of the right to alter or abolish government. I show in Part I that the right was widely accepted among the American colonies as expressed through their constitutions and, later, the federal constitution. In Part II, I usher the reader back in time and across the continent to seventeenth century England. There, I introduce two men who would have abhorred everything about American constitutional democracy - King James I and the philosopher Sir Robert Filmer. Both men, prominent in their respective domains of authority, devoted themselves to the governing axiom that kings were bequeathed a right by God to absolute rule. Part III sketches the seventeenth century arguments of two other Englishmen, also prominent--the philosophers John Locke and Algernon Sidney - who challenged James and Filmer. Locke and Sidney argued that God had never sanctioned the divine right of kings and instead had justified the people’s right to overthrow tyrants.

The arguments of Locke and Sidney will, as I show in subsequent sections, influence the American clergy who supported war against Britain and the right of revolution in general. Indeed, the development of this connection will occupy me for the remainder of the Article, but, in Part IV, I take a brief respite to summarize the historical circumstances that severely hampered governmental control over religion in colonial America and thus provided partially autonomous spaces for people to reflect on religion, including in ways that would inform their right to alter or abolish government. I illustrate in Part V how several prominent American clergymen, following Locke and Sidney, rejected as impossible the divine and supposedly infallible status of rulers. God, the clergy insisted, was the only one who could claim such infallibility; the clergy warned that rulers would do well to devote themselves to the people’s well being, not the former’s aggrandizement. In Part VI, I argue that, again echoing Locke and Sidney, a prominent group of American clergymen insisted that, contrary to the anti-democratic jeers of monarchists, God had given people the capacity for reason which enabled them to make meaningful decisions about their political future. I conclude in Part VII by illustrating how the federal and state constitutions following the American Revolution sought to protect conditions for the faithful to contemplate the religious meaning of the right to alter or abolish government.

Download the article at the link.

November 22, 2009

Law and Art

A couple of articles on law and the art by the New York Times' Adam Liptak: here on Daniel Moore and here on Donald Johnson, serving three life terms for murder.

November 20, 2009

Singing About Species

Charles Darwin has his own minstrel. The Scientist's Victoria Stern writes about Philadelphia entertainer Brett Keyser, who sings about Mr. Darwin's accomplishments, both on the street and in a one-man show called "Darwinii: The Comeuppance of Man." Read more here (subscription; free).

Meanwhile, former child star and current creation science activist Kirk Cameron is engaged in a new project: handing out copies of The Origin of Species on college campuses, but he and his colleagues don't exactly want university students to come to Darwin. These copies of Mr. Darwin's seminal work have a new introduction that seeks to show why it's flawed. According to recent media reports,

The 50 page introduction that Cameron helped pen includes passages that link Darwins work with Nazi eugenics and overall mysogyny.

"You can see where [Hitler] clearly takes Darwin's ideas to some of their logical conclusions and compares certain races of people to lower evolutionary life forms," Cameron told People. "If you take Darwin's theory and extend it to its logical end, it can be used to justify all number of very horrendous things.

But Mr. Cameron may not be getting through. Said one student, "I don't think they are accomplishing what they set out to do. All these people are getting a free 'Origin of Species.' If they read the book they'll see through (the introduction)...". Read more here in a Christian Science Monitor article.

The Right of Publicity and "Crime of the Century" Cases

Edward Larson, Pepperdine University School of Law, has published "Murder Will Out: Rethinking the Right of Publicity Through One Classic Case," in volume 26 Rutgers Law Review (2009). Here is the abstract.

In this forthcoming article, the author uses the protracted legal battles over the right of publicity stemming from the lasting celebrity created by the so-called “crime of the century” to propose a legal test for applying the right of publicity generally. These legal battles were fought during the 1960s over the right of celebrity slayer Nathan Leopold to control the use of his name and personality in a novel, movie, and stage play. After conflicting lower court decisions that had a chilling effect on writers and publishers, the case was eventually decided against Leopold. The author agrees with this result but argues that, because there has been a tendency to decide such disputes on a case-by-case basis, similar uncertainty continues to arise in analogous cases. He proposes a clear test, easily understood by both creators and users of celebrity personality, which would balance the interests of the parties and bring added predictability to this area of the law.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

It's a Wonderful Life, Mr. Scrooge, and Other Tales From La La Land

Larry E. Ribstein, University of Illinois College of Law, has published "How Movies Created the Financial Crisis", in the Michigan State Law Review for Winter 2009. Here is the abstract.

Narrative makes sense out of reality and can forcefully persuade listeners to a particular point of view. Artists in general have a narrative of business which springs from their belief that at least some aspects of business are antithetical to art. Filmmakers add to this a resentment of the constraints capital places on their art. Film is particularly persuasive because of its vivid images and because of the consistency of filmmakers’ anti-capitalist perspective on business. Filmmakers’ negative portrayal of capitalists has helped to prepare the public to believe that capitalists - and not government, economic cycles, greedy people or business generally - caused the financial crisis. This will help the public accept a regulatory agenda built on this premise, specifically including the regulation of hedge funds.

Download the Article from SSRN at the link.

Law, Humanities and the Medical Curriculum

Jennifer Bard, Texas Tech University School of Law, Thomas William Mayo, Southern Methodist School of Law, and Stacey A. Tovino, Drake University School of Law have published "Three Ways of Looking at a Health Law and Literature Class," in volume 1 of Drexel Law Review (Summer 2009). Here is the abstract.

The authors of this Article participated in a panel at the American Society of Law, Ethics & Medicine Conference in 2008 that discussed the use of literary materials in law school to teach medical ethics (and related matters) in a law school setting. Each author comes at the topic from a different perspective based on his or her own experience and background. This Article and the panel on which it was based reflect views on how literature can play a valuable role in helping law students, as well as medical students, understand important legal and ethical issues and concepts in health law and bioethics.

In Part I, Stacey Tovino introduces the parallel fields of “literature and medicine” and “law and literature” and identifies several common approaches to the use of literature, literary non-fiction, and illness narratives in medical and law school curricula. Tovino places current coursework in Law, Literature, and Medicine in its proper historical and pedagogical context.

In Part II, Tom Mayo describes the Law, Literature, and Medicine seminar he offers to third-year law students at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law and fourth-year medical students at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. Mayo examines the features of his course that make it effective, suggests literature that may be used by health law professors who do not have the opportunity to teach a seminar devoted to literature, and comments on the ongoing medical humanities debate.

In Part III, Jennifer Bard describes the Law, Medicine, and Literature course she offered for the first time at Texas Tech University School of Law during the Spring 2008 semester. Bard examines the texts and films she assigned to build a working knowledge of medicine and science and the literature she selected to immerse her students in medico-legal situations with which they were unfamiliar.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

November 19, 2009

LCCHP Announces Winners of Annual Student Writing Competition

From the Lawyers' Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation (LCCHP)

The Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation (LCCHP) is pleased to announce the winners of its 2009 annual student writing competition, sponsored by Andrews Kurth LLP. The first-place winner is Amelia Sargent of Stanford University Law School for a paper entitled “New Jurisdictional Tools for Displaced Cultural Property in Russia: From ‘Twice Saved’ to ‘Twice Taken’”. The second-place winner is Melanie Greer of DePaul University College of Law for her paper entitled “Deaccessioning: A Necessary Evil?”. An honorable mention went to “The Limits of the Law: The Impact of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Trade in Illicit Cambodian Antiquities”, by Terressa Davis of the University of Georgia.
Both winning papers will be published in the 2010 Yearbook of Cultural Property Law. The finalist paper, “Complying with NAGPRA’s Pesticide Provision: A Best Practice Guide” by Lydia Grunstra of American University Washington College of Law will also be published in the next issue of the Yearbook.
Due to the generosity of Andrews Kurth’s DC office, the first-place winner will receive an award of $1000 and the second-place winner will receive an award of $500. This is the fifth annual LCCHP competition, and it attracted twenty-six entries from nineteen law schools, the largest numbers of entries and law schools represented in any prior competition. We also want to thank this year’s writing competition selection committee, chaired by Sherry Hutt, and including Ricardo St. Hilaire, Lucille Roussin and Gillian Bearns.
For the third year, LCCHP is pleased to partner with Andrews Kurth in offering this competition as a means of expanding the teaching of cultural heritage preservation law in U.S. law schools. LCCHP is a nonprofit organization of lawyers, law students and interested members of the public who have joined together to promote the preservation and protection of cultural heritage resources in the United States and internationally through education and advocacy.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation is an organization of lawyers, professors, and like-minded friends who have joined together to promote the preservation and protection of cultural heritage resources in the United States and internationally through education, outreach and advocacy. Cultural heritage law is a growing legal field, as our society comes to appreciate the important symbolic, historical, and emotional role that cultural heritage plays in our lives. Cultural heritage law encompasses several disparate areas, including the protection of archaeological sites, preservation of historic structures and the built environment, preservation of and respect for both tangible and intangible indigenous cultures, international market in art works and antiquities, and recovery of stolen art works. Please visit the LCCHP web site at for more information and watch the site and your email for the upcoming announcement of the 2010 student writing competition.
About Andrews Kurth LLP
For more than a century, Andrews Kurth LLP has built its practice on the belief that "straight talk is good business." Real answers, clear vision and mutual respect define the firm's relationships with clients, colleagues, communities and employees. The firm has represented government and quasi-governmental institutions, museums, churches, foundations, families and private individuals from around the globe on the legal aspects of art and antiquities recovery in U.S. courts. With more than 400 lawyers and offices in Austin, Beijing, Dallas, Houston, London, Los Angeles, New York, The Woodlands and Washington, DC, Andrews Kurth represents a wide array of clients in all areas of business law.?More information about the firm’s art and cultural property practice may be found online at:

Translation, Comparative Law, and Localism

P. G. Monateri, University of Turin School of Law has published "'Cunning Passages': Traductology, Comparison and Ideology in the Law and Language Story." Here is the abstract.
My standpoint in this paper is that in affording the subject of Law and Language we face a mass of “local issues”, and “local puzzles”, but that we still lack a theory to grasp with the bulk of the matter. Al this becomes peculiarly embarrassing in the age of development of “English-only” movements, and facing the rise of a rather new and framed field of studies like “traductology” that would of course, but do not actually, interplay with comparaison especially in the field of Law. In my paper I just try to look around the package of some received ideas, in order to clean the blackboard before trying to build up something newer. Thus in the first section I cope with two prevailing theories: 1.) the theory of the language as a “social glue”, which is dominant and emerging from the present American political debate; 2.) the theory of the “analogy” between Law and Language as spontaneously ordered complex phenomena; then in a second section I try to trace back these ideas in the time of the “Birth of Comparativism” in the early 19th century. In so doing i deal with: 1.) the birth of Indo-European Family in Comparative Linguistics, and, 2.) the birth of Legal Comparativism within the context of the German Legal Historicism, in the same span of time. Finally I try to show how all these conceptions are nested details of a more general consciousness with broad political implications in terms of projects of governance. Then according to my views neither language studies nor traductology can be treated as pure subject deprived of a strong political commitment. Both are field where “choices for candor” are not at hand.

Download the paper at the link.

November 17, 2009

Reza Banakar, University of Westminster School of Law, has published "In Search of Heimat: A Note on Franz Kafka’s Concept of Law," in volume 22 of Law and Literature (Summer 2010). Here is the abstract.
Are Franz Kafka’s descriptions of law and legality a figment of his imagination or do they go beyond his obsessive probing of his neurosis, reflecting issues which also engaged the social and legal theorists of the time? Does Kafka’s conception of law offer anything new in respect to law, justice and bureaucracy, which was not explored by his contemporaries or by later legal scholars? This paper uses Kafka’s office writings as a starting point for re-examining the images of law, bureaucracy, hierarchy and authority in his fiction; images which are traditionally treated as metaphors for things other than law. It will argue that the legal images in Kafka’s fiction are worthy of examination, not only because of their bewildering, enigmatic, bizarre, profane and alienating effects, or because of the deeper theological or existential meaning they suggest, but also as a particular concept of law and legality which operates paradoxically as an integral part of the human condition under modernity. To explore this point Kafka’s conception of law is placed in the context of his overall writing as a search for Heimat which takes us beyond the instrumental understanding of law advocated by various schools of legal positivism and allows us to grasp law as a form of experience.

Download from SSRN at the link.

November 16, 2009

Positions Open

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF LAW and SOCIETY JOB DESCRIPTION: Successful candidates will be expected to teach courses in each of the following categories: (1) Introduction to Law and Society and/or Introduction to Law and Justice, (2) Comparative Legal Systems, American Legal History, Contemporary Issues in Law and Society, and/or Legal Rhetoric, (3) Directed Readings and Thesis Supervision and (4) electives of the major. Rank and salary based on qualifications and experience. REQUIREMENTS: Ph.D. required by start date in social science area relevant to the study and teaching of socio-legal phenomena including, but not limited to anthropology, area studies, communications/media, criminology, economics, gender/women's studies, geography, history, interdisciplinary studies, linguistics, philosophy, psychology, political science, sexuality, social work or sociology, etc.; and J.D. with practical experience strongly recommended. Scholarship (or promise thereof) on critical socio-legal theory involving race, gender, class and/or similar categories of inequality required. Inquiries may be directed to Dr. Aaron R.S. Lorenz, Search Committee Chair, School of Social Science and Human Services. To request accommodations, call (201) 684-7732.

All applications must be completed online at: Attach resume, cover letter, statement of teaching philosophy, research interests and a list of three references to your completed application. Since its beginning, Ramapo College has had an intercultural/international mission. Please tell us how your background, interest and experience can contribute to this mission, as well as to the specific position for which you are applying. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the positions are filled. Positions offer excellent state benefits. Applications will not be accepted by mail or email. Ramapo College Of New Jersey RAMAPO COLLEGE OF NEW JERSEY 505 Ramapo Valley Road, Mahwah, NJ 07430 Ramapo College is a member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC), a national alliance of leading liberal arts colleges in the public sector. EEO/AFFIRMATIVE ACTION.

Conference on Legal Fictions in Early Cultures, UCI

From Robin S. Stewart, Department of English, University of California, Irvine, Information on the Webcast of the UCI Graduate Student Conference "Legal Fictions in Early Cultures"

Here's the link to the online version of the conference: for those who like to do podcasts on their I-pods, here's a link to the mp3 files of all the panels (just scroll down to files posted on November 13 & 14 to find them):*.mp3

Information on the Panels and Presenters:

The Group for the Study of Early Cultures at the University of California, Irvine presents its Second Annual Graduate Student Conference:

"Legal Fictions in Early Cultures"
With a key-note address by Laurie Shannon, Associate Professor of English and the Wender Lewis Teaching and Research Professor, Northwestern University

Co-sponsored by the Humanities Center, the Center in Law, Society and Culture, the Department of English, and the UCI Chancellor's Fellows Program.

“…fictions are to law what fraud is to trade.” –Jeremy Bentham

This conference explores the intersection between the practice of law and other forms of extra-legal thought (including literary, theological, artistic or social) and the figural extension of both to cultural expression. Graduate students from various departments (including Classics, Comparative Literature, Drama, English, German, History, Spanish, and Rhetoric) at UCI and from across the country presented papers exploring the concept of "legal fiction" in historical periods ranging from antiquity to the early 19th century.

Organized by Robin S. Stewart (UCI Department of English), C.J. Gordon (UCI Department of Comparative Literature), and Alex Perkins (UCI Department of Classics)

November 13, 2009

Panel 1: Illegal Fictions

CJ Gordon, UC Irvine (Comparative Literature), “Bread God, Blood God:
Mandatory Fictions in Late Medieval Eucharistic Piety”

Nicolette Bruner, University of Michigan (English), “False Prophets:
Justice, Law, and Prescience in Njáls Saga"

Jennifer Nelson, Yale University (Art History), “Salvation History on
Trial: Visual and Legal Representation in Bellaert’s Belial of 1484”

Panel 2: Writing Jurisdictions

K-Sue Park, UC Berkeley (Rhetoric), “On Law, the Legal Document and
Legitimacy: Revisiting the Requerimiento”

Paul Johnson, UC Irvine (Spanish), "The Legal and Literary Status (es) of the Early Modern Spanish Captive”

Macy Todd, NYU (English), "Verdicts North and South: Irish Law in Spenser and Carleton"

Keynote Address

Laurie Shannon, Northwestern University, "In the Beginning: Genesis, Animal Entitlement, and the Legal Fiction of Human Authority in Early Modernity"

Panel 3: Fictiones Legales

Éloïse Lemay, University of Western Ontario (Classics), “Quantum interrx nobis!”

Michael W. Heil, Columbia University (History), "The Uses of the Placitum in the Late Tenth Century: the Example of Cremona"

Alex Perkins, UC Irvine (Classics), “Citizens of God: Early Christian Identity and the Ethereal Boundaries of Augustine’s Civitas Dei”

Panel 4: Women, Men, and the Law in Early Modern England

Laura Nowocin, Miami University (English), "My will shall be to me instead of law”: Silence, Excess, and the Female Petitioner in the Seventeenth-Century Court Masque

Josh Pearson, Kansas State University (English), “The Husband’s Office”:
The Doubling of Domestic and Civil Power in A Comedy of Errors

Lisa M. Barksdale-Shaw, Michigan State University (English), “But now her price is fall’n”: Devalued Brides, Disappearing Dowries, and the Legal Economies of Marriage in Shakespeare’s Lear

Daniel Bergen, Marquette University (English), "The Female Ungoverned: The Case of Thomas Crowther vs. Elizabeth Moorfoote"

November 14, 2009

Panel 5: Narrative and Adjudication

Nicole Wright, Yale University (English), “The consciousness of being half-caught in the act”: Self-awareness, culpability and “legal dignity”
in Walter Scott’s later novel

Jeff Wilson, UC Irvine (English), “Straightening Out the Tudor Myth:
Politics, Law, and the Modern Audience of the Shakespearean History Play”

Panel 6: Legal Alchemy

Jenny Liou, UC Irvine (English), "Not Betraying but Translating: Treason and the Legal Fictions of Restoration Science"

Jackie Way, UC Irvine (English), "The Magical Nature of the Law in Eliza Haywood’s Adventures of Eovaai"

Dan Keegan, UC Irvine (Drama), “Of A Montebank: The Poison Effect in Hamlet"

Anannya Dasgupta, Rutgers University (English), “I’ll bring thee rogue within the statute of sorcery”: Vagrancy, Witchcraft and Secular Law in Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist

Panel 7: The Medieval Legal Character

Patrick Blong, UC Irvine (English), “The Word: Providence and Law in the Towneley Cycle”

Jonathan Fine, UC Irvine (German), “Judge as Figure/Judge as Function: The Role of Judgment in Late Medieval German Literature”

Elizabeth Strakhov, University of Pennsylvania (Comparative Literature), "Historical Fiction and the Practice of Rhetoric: Chaucer's Man of Law"

November 10, 2009

Legal Fictions

Nancy J. Knauer, Temple University School of Law, has published Legal Fictions and Juristic Truth, in volume 22 of St. Thomas Law Review (2010). Here is the abstract.

The classic legal fiction is a curious artifice of legal reasoning. In a discipline primarily concerned with issues of fact and responsibility, the notion of a legal fiction should seem an anathema or, at the very least, an ill-suited means to promote a just result. However, the deployment of a patently false statement as a necessary component of a legal rule is a widely practiced and accepted mode of legal analysis. In rem forfeiture proceedings rest on the fiction that the inanimate object was bad. Attractive nuisance re-imagines the child trespasser as an invitee. A host of doctrines bearing the term "constructive" in their titles adopt an "as if" rationalization that deems something to have occurred despite the fact that it did not (e.g., constructive notice, constructive eviction, and constructive discharge).

Legal commentators writing in the diverse fields of law and literature, tax policy, and empirical legal studies have taken a renewed interest in legal fictions, including Fuller’s influential work from the 1930s. They have applied the label "legal fiction" to an eclectic group of legal rules, including slavery, the doctrine of discovery, the tax code, and empirically erroneous legal presumptions (i.e., discredited legal regimes, complex statutory schemes, and empirical legal errors). These newly identified legal fictions do not satisfy Fuller’s classic definition of a legal fiction because they are neither acknowledged to be false nor demonstrably false. The enduring conundrum presented by the classic legal fiction is that it retains its utility despite its falsity, similar to false statements used in science and mathematics in order to advance a proof or hypothesis.

Any discussion of fiction necessarily invokes a concept of reality against which the fiction can be measured. Thus, before we can speak intelligibly of fictions, we must first be able to identify truth. Does it make any sense to refer to slavery as a fiction when it was, in fact, a legal system that brutalized millions? Is the choice of a tax base "false" simply because it is statutorily prescribed? Certain legal rules, such as those governing eye witness testimony, explicitly incorporate statements of fact that are readily verifiable by reference to real world events. Slavery and the doctrine of discovery encompass abstract concepts, such as liberty, autonomy and sovereignty that are not provable in any conventional sense of the term. They stand as juristic truths independent from questions of empirical proof.

Fuller cautioned that a legal fiction becomes dangerous when it is believed for then the fiction can approximate a lie, but there is also danger when the force of its constitutive power is ignored. When this occurs, the label of fiction works a denial and removes from memory important lessons regarding the law and the fragility of the human experience

Download via the link.

November 5, 2009

The Significance of the Charles River Bridge Case

Alfred S. Konefsky, University at Buffalo Law School, SUNY, has published "Simon Greenleaf, Boston Elites and the Social Meaning and Construction of the Charles River Bridge Case," in Transformations in American Law: Essays in Honor of Morton J. Horowitz (sic), vol. II (Daniel Hamilton & Alfred Brophy, eds. Harvard University Press, forthcoming). Here is the abstract.

This essay examines the complexity of the social and cultural forces in antebellum Boston that led to the framing and resolution of the legal and constitutional issues in the Charles River Bridge Case. Though often viewed as a clash between models of economic development, the lines of conflict in the case in reality were first honed in pamphlet wars in the early Jacksonian turmoil of the 1820s focusing on other often overlooked contemporaneous Boston free bridge disputes and the birth of a free bridge political party. Boston elites were pejoratively termed “aristocrats” for their support of the Charles River Bridge franchise and accused of defending the creation of exclusive and monopolistic privilege and property through government grant, while proponents of a new competing - and ultimately free - bridge were castigated as “agrarians” and accused of forcibly taking property in order to equalize its distribution in the face of a state-sanctioned privilege. The driving force of the dispute, therefore, turned out to be the acute social anxiety and stress of Boston’s investors and commercial elites. No one better signifies the contours of the struggle than Simon Greenleaf, recently arrived in Cambridge as a law professor at Harvard. Greenleaf, as one of the lawyers for the competing Warren Bridge, stood in opposition to the established Charles River Bridge interests and was responsible for shaping the legal arguments that ultimately prevailed. For that sin, he was pilloried in the public press and ostracized in the community. Greenleaf’s unhappy experience then becomes a metaphor of sorts, allowing us to appreciate how understanding a social environment can assist us in cracking the code of legal arguments, particularly in this instance early Contract Clause and Takings jurisprudence. In the process of examining this historical episode, we might wish to consider under what conditions legal history might be entitled to call itself a form of social history and to speculate whether the critical question for legal historians interrogating these events is not whether law matters, but rather of what matter law is made.

Download the abstract from SSRN here.

November 4, 2009

Law, Text, Terror

Ian Ward, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Faculty of Law, has published Law, Text, Terror, forthcoming from Cambridge University Press. Here is the abstract.
The relationship between law and terrorism has re-emerged recently as a pressing issue in contemporary jurisprudence. Terrorism appears to take law to its limit, whilst the demands of counter-terrorism hold the cause of justice in contempt. At this point the case for engaging alternative intellectual approaches and resources is compelling. Ian Ward argues that through a closer appreciation of the ethical and aesthetical dimensions of terror, as well as the historical, political and cultural, we can better comprehend modern expressions and experiences of terrorism. For this reason, alongside juristic responses to modern expressions of terrorism, Law, Text, Terror examines a variety of supplementary literary texts as well as alternative intellectual approaches; from the drama of Euripides and Shakespeare, to the rhetoric and poetry of Burke and Shelley, the literary feminisms of Lessing and Rame, and the narrative existentialism of Conrad, Coetzee, Dostoevsky and DeLillo.

October 30, 2009

An Economic Analysis of Immoral Contracts in Roman Law

Péter Cserne, Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC), and Gergely Deli have published "Contracts and Morals: Towards an Economic Analysis of Immoral Contracts in Ancient Rome," as TILEC Discussion Paper 2009-037. Here is the abstract.

The way we nowadays think about “immoral” contracts is based on a number of assumptions. One of those assumptions concerns the relative isolation of law and extralegal standards. This view, however, is not new or even modern: to a large extent, it can be traced back to Roman law that has been both praised and condemned for this relative separation. In this paper we venture into the problematic of immoral transactions by combining historical, doctrinal and economic analysis. Focusing on cases and doctrines in ancient Roman law, our goal is to show how Roman lawyers found reasonable answers to issues which, in spite of obvious differences in economic and cultural context, can teach some lessons for modern contract law. After a brief preliminary on methodological problems of the economic analysis of legal history, we reconstruct the dynamics of how and why the term immorality (contra bones mores) became a general clause of Roman contract law in a relatively short time; discuss what kind of cases were solved with reference to this clause; and analyse how this clause shows the practical rationality of Roman lawyers. Finally we discuss some substantive and methodological insights this historical case can provide for the economic analysis of the interactions of law and morality.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

Conference on Religious Legal Theory

“Religious Legal Theory: The State of the Field”
Seton Hall University School of Law
Newark, New Jersey
Thursday-Friday, November 12-13, 2009
Seton Hall Law School will host Religious Legal Theory: The State of the Field, a conference to assess the state of the field of religiously-informed legal theory and its contributions.
Through presentations and in-depth discussions, presenters and participants will help consolidate the advances and chart new directions for religious perspectives on law and public policy. The conference will feature five plenary speakers, and twenty-four presentations of papers by legal scholars representing a wide range of religious traditions.
Visit for the full program and registration information.
For more information, please contact Professor David Opderbeck at or Professor Angela Carmella at

Consentual Language

Janice Nadler, Northwestern University School of Law and American Bar Foundation, and J. D. Trout, Loyola University of Chicago, have published "The Language of Consent in Police Encounters," in Oxford Handbook of Linguistics and Law (L. Solan and P. Tiersma eds.; Oxford University Press, forthcoming). Here is the abstract.

In this chapter, we examine the nature of conversations in citizen-police encounters in which police seek to conduct a search based on the citizen’s consent. We argue that when police officers ask a person if they can search, citizens often feel enormous pressure to say yes. But judges routinely ignore these pressures, choosing instead to spotlight the politeness and restraint of the officers’ language and demeanor. Courts often analyze the language of police encounters as if the conversation has an obvious, context-free meaning. The pragmatic features of language influence behavior, but courts routinely ignore or deny this fact. Instead, current Fourth Amendment jurisprudence assumes that the authority of armed police officers simply vanishes when they pose their desire to search as a question. We discuss empirical evidence suggesting that people are afraid to decline police officer requests to search, and conclude by discussing the social and psychological cost of the widespread use of consent searches.

Download the chapter from SSRN here.

The Uses of Verbs

Who said the Civil War was fought over a verb: "The United States is" or "The United States are"?

Minor Myers, Brooklyn Law School, has published "Supreme Court Usage and the Making of an 'Is'," at 11 Green Bag 2d 457 (Summer 2008). Here is the abstract.
This survey examines use of the phrases “United States is” and “United States are” in opinions of the United States Supreme Court from 1790 to 1919. The familiar claim, popularized by Shelby Foote in the Ken Burns Civil War documentary, is that the Civil War marked a shift in usage from plural to singular. This survey demonstrates that in the Supreme Court this account of the timing of the change is not accurate. Although patterns of usage changed abruptly in the 1860s, justices continued to use the plural form through the end of the nineteenth century. Indeed, the plural usage was the predominant usage in the 1870s, 1880s, and 1890s. Only in the beginning of the twentieth century did the singular usage achieve preeminence and the plural usage disappear almost entirely.

Download the article from SSRN here.

O Dracula, Where Art Thou?

From, why we are so fascinated with vampires. It's a thrill that's centuries old.

October 29, 2009

Word Imagery

Cristina Costantini creates "word clouds" out of her writings using a program called Wordle. See examples here and here. Very neat!

Oh, That Arnold!

From NPR, this story about a possible coded message from the Office of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to California State Assemblyman Tom Ammaino. Reporter Melissa Block asks an expert cryptographer for assistance.

October 27, 2009

The Use of Law and Literature

Katie Rose Guest Pryal, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, has published "Law, Literature, and Interdisciplinary Copia: A Response to Skeptics." Here is the abstract.
Recently, the law and literature (L&L) enterprise has been "reassessed" by a variety of scholars, whose opinions fall loosely into two camps. Some assert that L&L serves a necessary function in legal scholarship and education and should be preserved. Others, such as Jane B. Baron, see L&L as a flawed enterprise that is probably worth preserving, but not in its current incarnation, and not without recognizing its theoretical and practical limitations. In this essay I focus on the purposes and consequences of L&L for legal pedagogy. In order to discover the benefits of L&L, we must ask whether L&L is appropriate for legal education, and why. What I propose is that studying literary texts - fictional, dramatic, cinematic, or poetic works, of the high or low variety - in relation to and alongside of law, can benefit some of our students very much. Baron asserts that L&L discredits law as a field of study by claiming that we can only learn about human nature, compassion, empathy, or other humanistic quality crucial to competent lawyering or judging, by reading literature. This claim treats law "as a largely empty domain composed mainly of rules, a barren realm of technocratic doctrinal manipulation." Although Baron does not say so explicitly, she has expressed a pedagogical concern. The argument she critiques sets up an antagonistic dichotomy: it claims that we learn different and better things by studying literature than by studying law. Proponents of the dichotomy seek to prove that studying L&L is appropriate in legal education. I argue here that the best approach to L&L is an expansive and generous one, an approach that does not rely upon the denigration of law to prove the appropriateness of literature to legal studies. In discussing the benefits of L&L to legal pedagogy, I suggest that L&L, and indeed other interdisciplinary areas, are useful to and appropriate for legal pedagogy because they provide a variety of heuristics, or learning tools. These heuristics enable our various law students to find paths to legal knowledge that works best for them. This concept of multifarious methods derives from the rhetorical copia, as outlined in particular by Erasmus in the sixteenth century. In Part I, I build upon Baron's critiques of current trends in L&L as a framework to review the antagonistic dichotomy of L&L discourse that privileges literature on one hand and denigrates law and traditional legal studies on the other. In Part II, I reframe this dichotomy in a way that is constructive, returning value to traditional legal texts. In Part III, I use the theory of rhetorical copia to show that L&L is best thought of as one of many methods available to legal pedagogy, a strong supplement to traditional doctrinal and skills courses.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

The Language of Power in Racine

Eric Heinze, Queen Mary University of London School of Law, has published "'This Power Isn’t Power If It’s Shared': Law and Violence in Jean Racine’s 'La Thébaïde'" in volume 22 of Law & Literature (2010). Here is the abstract.
The Seventeenth century witnesses the steady demise of the fragmented or overlapping power regimes that had been rooted in the European Middle Ages. Centralised control increasingly structures emerging states. Jean Racine's La Thébaïde, recreating a chapter in the Oedipus myth, displays the Hobbesian drive for undivided sovereignty pushed to its logical conclusion: even two shareholders in power become one too many. Legal norms are constantly invoked to resolve a political and military power struggle, including discourses of absolute and shared sovereignty, separations of powers, popular consent, public welfare, national interest (raison d’état), natural law, and just war. Far from overcoming a brute power dynamic, however, those legal discourses show how the emerging modern state turns them into a tool of coercive power.

Download the abstract from SSRN here.

October 26, 2009

Missouri's Civil War

Frank O. Bowman III, University of Missouri School of Law, is publishing "Stories of Crimes, Trials and Appeals in Civil War Era Missouri," forthcoming in the Marquette Law Review. Here is the abstract.

This paper explores criminal appellate practice in Missouri from the time of statehood in 1821 until the 1870s, with particular focus on the decades before and after the Civil War. The article uses the stories of three trials in and around Columbia, Missouri - an attempted rape case against a slave that resulted in a lynching, a murder case against a white farmer that ended in his execution, and another murder case successfully appealed - to explore the legal culture of the period. All three trials involved two prominent central Missouri lawyers, James S. Rollins and Odon Guitar, who were also important political figures in Missouri’s Civil War. The article weaves together the trials, the biographies of Rollins and Guitar, and an exploration of contemporary rules and trial and appellate norms to explain the relative dearth of criminal appeals in mid-19th Century Missouri, and the factors that gradually produced an appellate system more like our own.

This paper was written for a symposium at Marquette Law School on criminal appeals, but it arises from a larger project examining the social, military, and legal history of central Missouri before, during, and after the Civil War.

Download the article from SSRN here.

The Law in Ancient Athens

Adriaan Lanni, Harvard Law School, has published "Social Norms in the Courts of Ancient Athens," at 1 Journal of Legal Analysis 691 (Summer 2009). Here is the abstract.
Ancient Athens was a remarkably peaceful and well-ordered society by both ancient and contemporary standards. Scholars typically attribute Athens’ success to internalized norms and purely informal enforcement mechanisms. This article argues that the formal Athenian court system played a vital role in maintaining order by enforcing informal norms. This peculiar approach to norm enforcement compensated for apparent weaknesses in the state system of coercion. It mitigated the effects of under-enforcement in a private prosecution system by encouraging litigants to uncover and punish their opponents’ past violations. Court enforcement of extra-statutory norms also permitted the Athenians to enforce a variety of social norms while maintaining the fictions of voluntary devotion to military and public service and of limited state interference in private conduct.

Download the article from SSRN here.

October 23, 2009

How Right (Or Wrong) Does Television Get It?

From, two stories about how television reflects the real world; a piece on the progress women have made in breaking through the glass ceiling since the 1970s,and a story on those interesting older woman/younger man relationships. Along the way: do anti-discrimination laws help or hurt, or have no effect? Do women flooding into the workplace eventually have the effect of flooding into the boardroom, or not?

Madeleine Albright has some interesting things to say about the power of a woman's word, even if it's expressed symbolically. In her new book, Read My Pins: Stories From a Diplomat's Jewel Box (HarperCollins, 2009) the first female U.S. Secretary of State discusses how Saddam Hussein inspired her use of jeweled pins to make subtle pronouncements on behalf of the government. "It would never have happened if not for Saddam Hussein. When U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright criticized the dictator, his poet in residence responded by calling her "an unparalleled serpent." Shortly thereafter, while preparing to meet with Iraqi officials, Albright pondered: What to wear? She decided to make a diplomatic statement by choosing a snake pin. Although her method of communication was new, her message was as old as the American Revolution—Don't Tread on Me." (From the B&N website). The pins are part of a special exhibit at the Museum of Arts & Design in New York, and then will travel to several cities in the country including Little Rock and Indianapolis.

The History of Branding and Trade Mark Law in the UK

John Mercer is publishing "A Mark of Distinction: Branding and Trade Mark Law in the UK from the 1860s," in Business History (forthcoming). Here is the abstract.
The development of branding is a neglected theme in business history. This article examines the emergence on a large scale of the unique product brand name - distinct from a company name or product descriptor - in the UK in the latter nineteenth century. It looks at the interaction of branding strategies and UK trade mark law, which is shown to have accorded property rights in word-based marks only gradually and shaped the development of branding in the UK. Trademark application data from the 1870s to the 1920s is cited to illustrate the widespread take-up of the brand name in the UK from the 1880s, and to consider its use by different types of consumer goods firms. The article then analyses the effects of such branding into the twentieth century, including its contribution to competitive advantage, the introduction of brand architecture, and the problem of brand genericisation. It is argued that the adoption of the brand name marked a major shift in brands, from descriptions of origin to objects of artifice.

Download the article from SSRN here.

The History of Criminal Prosecutions

Barry Godfrey, Keele University Department of Criminology, has published "Changing Prosecution Practices and Their Impact on Crime Figures, 1857-1940," at 48 British Journal of Criminology 171 (2008). Here is the abstract.
This article examines the changes in prosecution practices and policies that shaped crime trends between the mid-nineteenth and the mid-twentieth centuries. It concentrates on two processes which took place over this period: the disappearance of the victim as an active participant in the prosecution process; and the increasing dominance of both public and privatized agencies over the prosecution process. Victims were active participants in the prosecution process until the end of the nineteenth century. If it were not for the persistence of complainants in securing the offender and pressing their cases in court, rates of recorded crime would be much lower. However, by 1880, the police had in many cases assumed the role of prosecutor. The first part of this article questions how this change affected recorded rates of violent crime. The second part of the article explores the rise of private prosecutors of regulatory style offences (which constituted over half the business of local magistrates courts from 1880 to 1940). It concludes that from 1880, crime rates were increasingly subject to the policies and practices of the police and other appointed officials, and that the role of the victim as active prosecutor had become almost redundant by the First World War.

October 22, 2009

Call For Papers

This inter-disciplinary conference seeks to examine issues surrounding the conjunction between evil and the feminine. In many cultures women have been long suspected as the source of sundry human miseries, however basic to society they may be. At the same time as ideals of purity and dedication to family have been exalted and feminine beauty lauded, women have been viewed as embodying sinister forces of evil. Mistrusted as seductive and beguiling, women are also often thought of as vengeful, manipulative and even malevolent. In grappling with our understanding of what it is to be ‘evil’, the project aims to shine a spotlight on this dark area of the human condition and explore the possible sources of the fear and resentment of women.

Papers, reports, work-in-progress and workshops are invited on issues related to the following themes:

~ Evil Women and Feminine Evil
~ Representing and Misrepresenting the Female
~ Motherhood; Monstrous Motherhood
~ Monstrous Births and Infanticide
~ Matriarchy / Matricide
~ Devious Sexuality and Feminine Perversions
~ Women and the Abject
~ Menstruation, Castration
~ Fears and Myths: Feminine Blood
~ Anthropological Perspectives
~ Historical Perspectives
~ The Evil Woman in Literature
~ Psychoanalytic perspectives: “Vagina Dentata” etc
~ Sexualizing the Female or Evil Objectification
~ Jezebel, Delilah, Lilith, Harpies and the Femme Fatale
~ The Bitch
~ Women and Power
~ Beauty as threatening or evil
~ Portrayals of Evil Women
~ Fantasy
~ Mythology
~ Vampires, Witches and Sirens
~ Case Studies

The Steering Group particularly welcomes the submission of pre-formed panel proposals. Papers will also be considered on any related theme. 300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 27th November 2009. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted by Friday 12th March 2009.

300 word abstracts should be submitted simultaneously to both Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word, WordPerfect, or RTF formats with the following information and in this order:

a) author(s), b) affiliation, c) email address, d) title of abstract, e) body of abstract.

Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using footnotes and any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Organising Chairs:

■Sorcha Ni Fhlainn
Hub Leader, Project Co-Leader, School of English, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
■Stephen Morris
Hub Leader, Independent Scholar, New York USA
■Rob Fisher
Network Founder and Leader,Inter-Disciplinary.Net,Freeland, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom
The conference is part of the At the Interface programme of research projects. It aims to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are innovative and exciting. All papers accepted for and presented at the conference will be eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook. Selected papers may be developed for publication in a themed hard copy volume(s).

Style Sheets
In preparing your papers, please pay strict attention to the following style sheets

■Download Oxford Style Sheet – v7 (pdf) ■Download Oxford Reference Style Sheet 2 (pdf) ■Download Template document (Word)

See the website here.

October 21, 2009

Call For Papers: Comparative Law Workshop



May 20-22, 2010
The University of Illinois College of Law

Sponsored by:
American Society of Comparative Law
University of Illinois College of Law
Princeton University
Program for Law and Public Affairs

Jacqueline Ross (University of Illinois College of Law),
Kim Lane Scheppele (Princeton University, Program for Law
and Public Affairs), and James Q. Whitman (Yale Law School)
are calling for paper submissions for the Fifth Annual
Comparative Law Works in Progress Workshop which will take
place at The University of Illinois College of Law from May
20-22, 2010. (The arrival date would be May 20.) This
workshop will co-sponsored by the American Society of
Comparative Law.

Having been called away by many of his other
responsibilities, including his editorship of the American
Journal of Comparative Law, Mathias Reimann regrets that he
will not be able to continue his role as co-organizer of
this workshop. We will miss his lively and incisive
contributions. We are very happy to announce, however, that
as of this year, we will be joined as co-organizers by
James Q. Whitman, Ford Foundation Professor of Comparative
and Foreign Law at Yale Law School. The annual workshop
will now rotate between Princeton University, the
University of Illinois College of Law, and Yale Law School.


There is no regular opportunity for comparative law
scholars in the United States to meet and discuss their
work in any depth. The scholarly programs of the meetings
of the American Society of Comparative Law are chosen and
organized by the respective host schools and aim at the
presentation of finished papers on a given topic. While
there is some opportunity to present work in progress,
there is little opportunity for sustained discussion. The
meetings of the Comparative Law Section at the AALS
Conference each January are also dedicated to a specific
topic and usually exhaust themselves in the presentation of
papers with little substantive discussion. There is thus a
need for a forum in which comparative law work in progress
can be explored among colleagues in a serious and thorough
manner that will be truly helpful to the respective

The Annual Comparative Law Works-in-Progress Workshop is
intended to fill that need. It will involve up to six
papers during a two-day period. If more than six papers are
submitted for discussion, the organizers will jointly
decide which ones to accept, giving preference to younger

The participants will consist of the respective authors,
one commentator on each paper, faculty members of the host
institution, particularly those with expertise in
comparative law and research, and others interested in
attending. The overall group will be kept small enough to
sit around a large table and to allow serious discussion
(20 people maximum). The papers will not be presented at
the workshop. They will be distributed two weeks in advance
and every participant must have read them before attending
the meeting. The commentator will present a 10 to 15 minute
introduction and critique, leaving at least one hour for
discussion. There are no plans to publish the papers.
Instead, it is up to the authors to seek publication if,
and wherever, they wish.

The Fifth Annual Comparative Law Workshop will take place
on May 20-22, 2010 at the University of Illinois College of
Law. The Workshop will be funded by the host school and by
the American Society of Comparative Law (ASCL). Authors of
papers and commentators from ASCL member schools will be
reimbursed for their travel expenses and accommodation up
to $600.00, in accordance with the ASCL reimbursement
policy (as posted on its webpage), though only up to six
authors and commentators will be reimbursed by the ASCL.
(The University of Illinois College of Law will reimburse
the remainder.) The ASCL's policy provides that
reimbursement is available only if the applicant cannot
obtain reimbursement from his or her home school.


Interested authors should submit papers electronically to:

CONTACT: Jacqueline Ross

by March 1, 2010.

We will inform them of our decision by early April, 2010.
"Work in progress" means scholarship that has reached a
stage at which it is substantial enough to merit serious
discussion and critique but that has not yet appeared in
print (although it may have been accepted for publication.
It includes law review articles, book chapters or outlines,
substantial book reviews, and other appropriate genres.

Our objective is not only to provide an opportunity for the
discussion of scholarly work but also to create an
opportunity for comparative lawyers to get together for two
days devoted to nothing but talking shop, both in the
sessions and outside. We hope that this will create synergy
that fosters more dialogue, cooperation, and an increased
sense of coherence in a discipline badly in need of it.

Jacqueline Ross Kim Lane Scheppele James Q. Whitman

October 16, 2009

The CSI Effect

Diane Auer Jones discusses her recent experience on a jury and notes that "CSI"-like tv shows have much more impact on jurors' reasoning than the judge's instructions. What's going on?

On this issue see also

Cole, Simon A., and Dioso-Villa, Rachel, CSI and its Effects: Media, Juries, and the Burden of Proof, 41 New England Law Review --(2007)

Mann, Michael D., The "CSI Effect": Better Jurors Through Television and Science?

Podlas, Kimberlianne, "The CSI Effect": Exposing the Media Myth
16 Fordham Intell. Prop. Media & Ent. L.J. 429 (Winter, 2006)

Schweitzer, N.J., and Michael J. Saks, The CSI Effect: Popular Fiction About Forensic Science Affects Public Expectations About Real Forensic Science, 47 Jurimetrics 357 (Spring 2007)

Shelton, Donald E., Young S. Kim, and Gregg Barak, A Study of Juror Expectations and Demands Concerning Scientific Evidence: Does the 'CSI Effect' Exist? 9 Vanderbilt J. Ent. & Tech. L. 330 (2006).

October 15, 2009

Interracial Relationships

Jason Gillmer, Texas Wesleyan University School of Law, has published "Telling Stories of Love, Sex, and Race." Here is the abstract.
The history of interracial sex is often told from the perspective of either legislatures or lynch mobs. The approach has a certain appeal; it allows us to track the ideological currents of the dominant society, as they ebb and flow from passive acceptance of the practice to outright hostility. But the approach also minimizes the role of the participants, routinely casting them as unimportant players in the overall history of sex and race in this country. In this book chapter, I look at the subject of interracial intimacy from the perspective of the people involved: one story involves a white man and black woman from slavery times, and the other involves a black man and white woman from the turn of the century. The purpose is to add some depth and detail to our understanding of some of these relationships, in the process upending some of our basic assumptions about what they might have been like. Indeed, by shining a light on individual cases, we begin to appreciate both the contradictions and complexities of interracial unions, breathing life into a portion of history too often left untold.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

Women and Wall Street

Christine Sgarlata Chung, Albany Law School, has published "From Lily Bart to the Boom Boom Room: How Wall Street's Social and Cultural Response to Women Has Shaped Securities Regulation." Here is the abstract.
In Edith Wharton’s 1905 novel House of Mirth, Lily Bart learns in one brutal moment what happens to women who get tangled up with the stock market. Though she is beautiful and well-born, Lily is vulnerable when she seeks salvation in the stock market - she has no family to support her, no fortune of her own, no training in business matters, and no socially acceptable means of acquiring money, save marriage. When the husband of a friend (Gus Treanor) offers to help Lily by speculating in the stock market, Lily agrees. And when Treanor begins presenting Lily with money, she gladly accepts what she assumes are trading profits. One night, however, after luring Lily to his house under false pretenses, Treanor makes his true intentions known. After accusing Lily of leading him on, Treanor demands sexual favors, telling Lily that she must "pay up". Even though Lily manages to extricate herself from the house without submitting to Treanor’s demands, she is ruined by this encounter. Cast off by her social circle, Lily eventually leaves her last pennies to Treanor, takes an overdose of sleeping medication and dies alone in a boarding house room.

One hundred years later, when senior Morgan Stanley executive Zoe Cruz sought her fortune in the stock market, she appeared to have none of Lily Bart’s limitations. Ms. Cruz was a long-time Wall Street warrior. She began working on Wall Street in 1982 after graduating from Harvard College and Harvard Business School. After proving herself on the trading desk, she spent more than twenty years working her way up through management, eventually earning millions of dollars per year in compensation, and billions in profits for her employer. By 2007, she was the heir apparent for the CEO job. Just months after praising Ms. Cruz's market insights and her contributions to the Morgan Stanley’s bottom line, however, Ms. Cruz's boss called her to his office. With the subprime mortgage crisis unfolding, losses mounting and his own job under pressure, Ms. Cruz's boss said that he had "lost confidence" in her and asked her to resign. After a ten minute meeting, Ms. Cruz left the building and never went back. In the wake of termination, some former colleagues questioned whether the woman they had nicknamed "the Cruz Missile" had ever understood the markets, trading or how to manage financial risk.

In this article, I argue that even though Lily Bart’s fictional ruin and Ms. Cruz's rise and fall are separated by more one hundred years, "stories" like theirs are typical, and reflect Wall Street’s fixed and surprisingly narrow social and cultural response to women who wish to trade securities or work in the financial industry. In Wall Street lore, the "masters of the universe" are almost invariably men - they are the high-flying traders, the crusading regulators and even the notorious scoundrels though to have shaped the markets and our system of securities regulation. Women, by contrast, are portrayed as social and cultural outsiders to the Wall Street world. Drawing upon industry narratives, articles from the popular press and selected academic commentary from the past one hundred years, I show how women are either omitted from Wall Street narratives entirely, as if they are (and should remain) absent from securities markets, or relegated to the status of hapless victims or allegedly incompetent shrews. In either case, Wall Street's prevailing narrative assumes that women lack the skills and characteristics necessary to navigate on Wall Street, and risk financial and reputational ruin if foolish enough to venture into the markets alone.

I further argue that Wall Street’s social and cultural response to women has become embedded in our system of securities regulation. Drawing upon selected case law, legislative history and administrative agency reports from the 1920s to the present, I show how reform-minded legislators, courts and regulators have used stories of vulnerable female victims of investment abuse - particularly "poor widows" - when seeking to curb abusive sales practices on Wall Street. Drawing upon employment discrimination cases, I show how Wall Street firms have used the same stereotypes about women to justify excluding women from employment on Wall Street and to rebut discrimination, harassment and retaliation claims.

Finally, having exposed links between Wall Street's social and cultural response to women and our regime of securities regulation, I argue that Wall Street’s singular narrative for women has come at a cost, and one that we have yet fully to explore. Securities regulation purports to be a gender-neutral exercise. It uses supposedly gender-neutral standards like "reasonable", "sophisticated" and "unsophisticated", and it assigns rights and obligations based on purportedly gender-neutral roles like "trader" "broker" and "customer". In reality, however, relevant standards and systems reflect unstated gender norms about who is sophisticated and skilled when it comes to the markets, and who is not. And because the law, with its tendency to use labels and stereotypes, has seized upon Wall Street’s image of women as incompetent outsiders, it has reinforced and in some cases legitimized Wall Street’s gender norms. As a result, instead of examining the skills and characteristics of individual market participants, we assume that some people are competent merely because they "look the part" (say, Bernard Madoff) and we are skeptical of those who do not. We presume that some people are vulnerable and in need of protection (poor widows), but we are skeptical when people who do not fit this stereotype allege investment abuse. And, we assume that norms and systems impact all system participants equally, when in reality, they may reflect the experiences and perspectives of one or more dominant groups.

This paper examines links between Wall Street's prevailing image of women and case law, legislative and regulatory activity as a first step in understanding how Wall Street's gender norms have affected securities regulation. Going forward, this paper urges scholars to ask hard questions about the unexamined underpinnings of our system of securities regulation (including but not limited to unexamined gender stereotypes), so that our regulatory regime might be as effective and efficient as our times demand.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

October 14, 2009

Call For Papers

Georgetown University Law Center, Columbia Law School, University of Southern California Center for Law, History & Culture, and UCLA School of Law invite submissions for the eighth meeting of the Law & Humanities Junior Scholar Workshop to be held at USC Gould School of Law in Los Angeles on June 4 & 5, 2010.

The paper competition is open to untenured professors, advanced graduate students and post-doctoral scholars in law and the humanities; in addition to drawing from numerous humanistic fields, and welcomes critical, qualitative work in the social sciences. Between five and ten papers will be chosen, based on anonymous evaluation by an interdisciplinary selection committee, for presentation at the June Workshop. At the Workshop, two senior scholars will comment on each paper. Commentators and other Workshop participants will be asked to focus specifically on the strengths and weaknesses of the selected scholarly projects, with respect to subject and methodology. Moreover, the selected papers will then serve as the basis for a larger conversation among all the participants about the evolving standards by which we judge excellence and creativity in interdisciplinary scholarship, as well as about the nature of interdisciplinarity itself.

Papers should be works-in-progress between 10,000 and 15,000 words in length (including footnotes/endnotes), and must include an abstract of no more than 200 words. A dissertation chapter may be submitted but we strongly suggest that it be edited so that it stands alone as a piece of work with its own integrity. A paper that has been submitted for publication is eligible so long as it will not be in galley proofs or in print at the time of the Workshop. The selected papers will appear in a special issue of the Legal Scholarship Network; there is no other publication commitment. The Workshop will pay the travel expenses of authors whose papers are selected for presentation.

Submissions (in either Word or Wordperfect, no pdf files) will be accepted until January 8, 2010, and should be sent by e-mail to:

Center for the Study of Law and Culture

Columbia Law School
435 W. 116th Street
New York, N.Y. 10027

Please be sure to include your contact information. For more information: Tanisha Madrid, 212.854.0692 or The full text of the Call for Papers is available at:

Storytelling Across the Curriculum

Carolyn Grose, William Mitchell College of Law, has published "Storytelling Across the Curriculum: From Margin to Center, from Clinic to the Classroom," as NYLS Clinical Research Institute Paper No. 09/10 #3. Here is the abstract.

Narrative theory and storytelling have emerged as threads in legal scholarship steadily over the past 20 years. Beginning in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, the 'Legal Storytelling' movement sought to acknowledge and include the voices of 'outsiders' in legal scholarship and dialogue. More recently, the 'Applied Legal Storytelling' movement has emerged as scholars encourage each other to use storytelling to enhance their understanding of particular skills lawyers practice, and how to improve those skills. Scholars in the 'Law and Literature' movement explore the uses of literature to help lawyers stay connected to their imaginations, to their creativity, and to their humanity. Each of these scholarly movements has led to, or grown out of, professors’ experiments with using particular kinds of narrative theory and storytelling as part of their pedagogy.

In clinical teaching and scholarship, storytelling has always assumed pride of place for all of these reasons: to help students hear and incorporate the voices of 'outsiders' as they engage in and practice various lawyering skills, and to challenge them to think creatively and compassionately about their case strategy and practice. Lucie White’s 'Sunday Shoes' piece and Binny Miller’s 'Give Them Back Their Lives' are just two examples of narrative theory and storytelling practice that many clinical teachers use either explicitly or behind the scenes in their supervision or seminar teaching.

I believe narrative theory and storytelling can be used even more fundamentally, cutting across types of courses and types of lawyering. I teach skills, doctrinal and clinical courses, and I use narrative theory and storytelling in all three, all with the same goal: to help students recognize that as lawyers, they are not only hearers and tellers of stories, but also, and perhaps most important, constructors of stories. And that, simply put, is what I mean by narrative theory. The practice of storytelling is the craft of constructing stories, based on choices made with intention and reflection by the lawyer and her client. A pedagogy that relies on this theory and practice leads students to realize that The Law itself is a set of stories that have been adopted by decisionmakers, and that those stories have been constructed by none other than lawyers, just like themselves.

My particular pedagogy relies on an exploration of both narrative theory and the practice of storytelling. Most, if not all, of my classes - regardless of their official content - involve discussions about what stories are and what makes them 'good' (persuasive, compelling), both substantively (the 'what' of the story) and technically (the 'how' of the story). That’s the narrative theory. In addition, my students spend a lot of time constructing and deconstructing stories, focusing on their elements - both the 'what' and the 'how' - and on the choices that resulted in the story’s substance and structure. That’s the storytelling practice.

In this piece, I develop the idea of using storytelling across the curriculum to teach students this kind of critical thinking and reflection about their role as lawyers. In Part One, I describe the importance of storytelling and stories in the craft of lawyering. Part Two reviews briefly how clinical and non-clinical teachers use storytelling in their teaching. The bulk of the piece - Part Three - is a description and analysis of my own teaching and how it achieves the goal of developing students’ critical thinking skills and reflective practice. I provide concrete examples of my teaching, as well as critique and analysis based on narrative and lawyering theory scholarship.

The piece concludes with the suggestion that narrative theory and storytelling as a pedagogy used systematically across individual courses and the curriculum has the potential to transform a student’s experience of law school, resulting in her development as an empowered, reflective, and socially responsible member of the legal profession, regardless of the kind of law she practices or the kinds of clients she represents.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

October 13, 2009

Brain Science, Learning, and Narrative

Lea B. Vaughn, University of Washington School of Law, has published "Feeling at Home: Learning, Law & Narrative." Here is the abstract.
Brain science, simplified here, suggests that the first task is to “grab” someone’s attention because “better attention always equals better learning.” (Medina 74) One of the features of stories that captures attention better than cases is their emotional content. Emotionally charged events are more likely to capture our attention and to be remembered. A beneficial consequence of the emotional fixation is that it focuses attention on the context and meaning. Studies suggest that this context is the platform that allows later and successive integration of the details. Thus, stories “work” because they focus attention and provide a context for learning the “details,” i.e., the law. Moreover, the same principles that apply to the success of this strategy in the classroom can also bear fruit in the courtroom and in litigation documents.

This paper is designed to complement Prof. O’Neill’s (Univ. of Washington SOL) paper on the use of print media stories about the recent financial crisis to teach contracts. The focus of my paper will be to consider theories and accounts from cognitive as well as evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, and cultural anthropology in order to explain why the use of stories is such an effective teaching and presentation strategy.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

October 8, 2009

The Order of "Law & Order"

Law & Order's Rene Balcer discusses how those "ripped from the headlines" stories make it to the small screen. An NPR interview here.

October 1, 2009

Hollywood, Women's and Children's Rights, and the News

FindLaw's Marci Hamilton discusses the popular culture image of polygamy in Big Love and the reaction to the news of the arrest of director Roman Polanski here, arguing that some media can sometimes present a very particularized interpretation of child abuse and women's rights. Interesting views, interesting reading.