August 24, 2012

A New Book About Legal History, Race, and Identity Before the Civil War

From the University of Pennsylvania Press:

In the Shadow of the Gallows ( reveals how a sense of racialized culpability shaped Americans' understandings of personhood prior to the Civil War. Author Jeanine DeLombard, Associate Professor of English the University of Toronto, draws from legal, literary, and popular texts to address fundamental questions about race, responsibility, and American civic belonging.

To receive a 20% discount on orders from, enter P4R3 in the promo code field.

August 22, 2012

Presumed Innocent, A Reader Favorite

The August 22nd Diane Rehm show features a segment about Scott Turow's novel Presumed Innocent. Panelists Leslie Maitland, Barry Coburn, and Alafair Burke discuss the book and the film based on it.

A short bibliography about Presumed Innocent and its themes below.

Christine A. Corcos, Presuming Innocence: Alan J. Pakula and Scott Turow Take On the Great American Legal Fiction, 22 Okla. City U. L. Rev. 129 (1997).

Christine A. Corcos, Prosecutors, Prejudices, and Justice: Observations on Presuming Innocence in Popular Culture, 34 U. Toledo L. Rev. 793 (2002/2003).

David R. Papke, The American Courtroom Trial: Pop Culture, Courthouse Realities, and the Dream World of Justice, 40 S. Tex. L. Rev. 919 (1999).

Scott Turow &  Kay Bonetti, An Interview with Scott Turow, 13 The Missouri Rev. 101 (1990).

August 21, 2012

Music, Murders, and Misdemeanors

Robyn Hagan Cain muses on the intersection of music and law for Findlaw here. Among her examples: Eric Clapton's "I Shot the Sheriff" and Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean."

August 20, 2012

Law and Justice On the Small Screen

Peter Robson, University of Strathcylde, Glasgow, School of Law, and Jessica Silbey, Suffolk University Law School, have published Law and Justice on the Small Screen (Introduction) (Hart Publishing, 2012).

Law and Justice on the Small Screen is a wide-ranging collection of essays about law in and on television. In light of the book's innovative taxonomy of the field and its international reach, it makes a novel contribution to the scholarly literature about law and popular culture. Television shows from the US, Canada, France, the UK, Germany, and Spain are discussed. The essays are organized into three sections: (1) methodological questions regarding the analysis of law and popular culture on television, (2) a focus on genre studies within television programming (including a subsection on reality television), and (3) content analysis of individual television shows with attention to big-picture jurisprudential questions of law's efficacy and the promise of justice. The book's content is organized to make it appropriate for undergraduate and graduate classes in the following areas: media studies, law and culture, socio-legal studies, comparative law, jurisprudence, the law of lawyering, alternative dispute resolution, and criminal law.
Download the essay from SSRN at the link. 

August 18, 2012

Harry Harrison (1925-2012)

Harry Harrison, the science fiction novelist, has died. He was the author of numerous classics, including "Make Room! Make Room!" which was transformed for the screen as Solyent Green, and those works which featured the con man, the Stainless Steel Rat. More in this obituary from the New York Times.

It Is a Fact Universally Acknowledged That Everybody Wants Jane's Vote

The Atlanticwire brings word of a new debate--the fight over Jane Austen's relevance to conservatives. Should they be claiming her as a politico-philosophical progenitor--like Ayn Rand? More here.

August 17, 2012

A Special Issue on "Law's Justice" From the Italian Society for Law and Literature

From M. Paola Mittica, Coordinator of the Italian Society for Law and Literature, news of a special issue of No Foundations. This issue, Law's Justice, includes contributions from James Boyd White, Jeanne Gaakeer, François Ost, Marianne Constable, Rebecca Johnson, M. Paola Mittica, Gary Watt, and Ari Hirvone. Download the full issue here.

August 16, 2012

A Global Perspective On Women's Legal History

Women's Legal History: A Global Perspective - Symposium Introduction: Making History will be available in volume 87 of the Chicago-Kent Law Review (2012). Here is the abstract.
This essay introduces the Chicago-Kent Symposium on Women's Legal History: A Global Perspective. It seeks to situate the field of women's legal history and to explore what it means to begin writing a transnational women's history which transcends and at times disrupts the nation state. In doing so, it sets forth some of the fundamental premises of women's legal history and points to new ways of writing such histories.
Download the essay from SSRN at the link. 

A Look at "Buck v. Bell"

Victoria F. Nourse, Georgetown University Law Center, has published Buck v. Bell: A Constitutional Tragedy from a Lost World at 39 Pepperdine Law Review 101 (2011). Here is the abstract.
Some constitutional tragedies are well known: Plessy v. Ferguson and Korematsu v. United States are taught to every first-year law student. Buck v. Bell is not. Decided in 1927 by the Taft Court, the case is known for its shocking remedy -- sterilization -- and Justice Holmes's dramatic rhetoric: "Three generations of imbeciles are enough." A mere five paragraphs long, Buck v. Bell could represent the highest ratio of injustice per word ever signed on to by eight Supreme Court Justices, progressive and conservative alike.

Buck v. Bell is not a tragedy as some others might define tragedy: it is not a well-known opinion, nor did it yield wide popular criticism; it sits as a quiet evil, a tragedy of indifference to the Constitution and its most basic principles. To include Buck as a tragic opinion is to recognize what Hannah Arendt once dubbed the "banality of evil." Even if grounded in eugenic assumptions widely held at the time, Buck v. Bell was an utterly lawless decision. Holmes treated Carrie Buck's constitutional claims with contempt. The opinion cites no constitutional text or principle emanating from the text. The only "law" in the opinion must be unearthed from a lost constitutional history embedded in a factual exegesis full of disdain for the Constitution and humanity itself. Few human tragedies can be greater "than the denial of an opportunity to strive or even to hope, by a limit imposed from without, but falsely identified as lying within." A lawless legitimation of such a principle -- one of natural aristocracy -- flies in the face of the very constitutional principles on which our nation was founded.
Download the article from SSRN at the link. 

August 14, 2012

Desmond Manderson on Law and Literature

Desmond Manderson, ANU College of Law; ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences; McGill University Faculty of Law, has published Modernism and the Critique of Law and Literature at 35 Australian Feminist Law Journal 105 (2011). Here is the abstract.

‘Law and literature’ suffers from two besetting weaknesses: first, a concentration on substance and plot and, second, a salvific belief in the capacity of literature to cure law or perfect its justice. The first fails to question the Platonic ideal that the purpose of art is mimetic. The second fails to question the romantic ideal that the purpose of art is to heal the world’s wounds. Too often in opening a dialogue with law we fail to capture the real experience or worth of literature - a worth irreducible to either the morality it ‘stands for’, or to the coherence or harmony it promises. Indeed, the aesthetic ideals of modernism, which so dramatically altered the landscape of literature, philosophy and politics around the turn of the (twentieth) century, reject just these claims. Modernism - to be more sharply distinguished from ‘modernity’ than it often is - produced instead a heightened attentiveness to questions of style, form, and language, and to questions of diversity and subjectivity in voice and perspective. Modernism cast off the aesthetic ideologies of mimesis and romanticism and opened up claims of truth, progress, and perfection to the destabilizing subtlety of irony. This essay’s focus on modernist irony, with particular attention to the work of Mikhail Bakhtin, suggests a very different orientation and defense of ‘law and literature’.
Download the article from SSRN at the link. 

August 13, 2012

A Nineteenth Century Crime Drama From BBC America

BBC America launches its first scripted show, Copper, on August 19th. The show, set in New York's Five Points in 1863,features a police officer named Kevin Corcoran (Tom Weston-Jones). The series, created by Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana, is on every Sunday at 10 p.m., 9 Central time.

More here from Richard Morgan (Wall Street Journal online).

Marlowe's Return

The Chandler estate has asked John Banville to bring Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe back in a new novel. Mr. Banville will be using the pseudonym Benjamin Black, the name he uses for his own detective series. More here from the New York Times.

August 9, 2012

Justice Ginsburg, Music, and Law

Justice Ginsburg on music and law, here from FindLaw. More here from the Wall Street Journal.

Law and Justice On the Small Screen


Law and Justice on the Small Screen
Edited by Peter Robson and Jessica Silbey

'Law and Justice on the Small Screen' is a wide-ranging collection of essays about law in and on television. In light of the book's innovative taxonomy of the field and its international reach, it will make a novel contribution to the scholarly literature about law and popular culture. Television shows from France, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and the United States are discussed.  The essays are organised into three sections: (1) methodological questions regarding the analysis of law and popular culture on television; (2) a focus on genre studies within television programming (including a subsection on reality television), and (3) content analysis of individual television shows with attention to big-picture jurisprudential questions of law's efficacy and the promise of justice. The book's content is organised to make it appropriate for undergraduate and graduate classes in the following areas: media studies, law and culture, socio-legal studies, comparative law, jurisprudence, the law of lawyering, alternative dispute resolution and criminal law.

Please click on the links below to read the introduction and the table of contents:

Taunya Lovell Banks, Paul Bergman, Lief H Carter, Christine A Corcos, Dr Annette Houlihan, Rebecca Johnson, Ummni Khan, Freya Kodar, Anita Lam, Anja Louis, Stefan Machura, Nancy S Marder, Michael McCann, Dr Angus Nurse, Kimberlianne Podlas, Dr Sara Ramshaw, Peter Robson, Susan Dente Ross, Dr Jennifer L Schulz, Cassandra Sharp, Jessica Silbey, Marilyn Terzic, Ryan J Thomas, Mark Tunick, Tung Yin

Peter Robson is a Professor of Law at the University of Strathclyde.
Jessica Silbey is Professor of Law at Suffolk University Law School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Aug 2012   488pp   Pbk   9781849462693  £35 / 45.50 / US$55 / CDN$55   

Order Online:

If you have any enquiries please contact Hart Publishing Ltd, 16C Worcester Place, Oxford, OX1 2JW, UK Telephone Number: 01865 517530; Fax Number: 01865 510710; Website:; E-mail:
Hart Publishing Ltd. is registered in England No. 3307205

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's a Client!

James Daily and Ryan Davidson have turned their blog, Law and the Multiverse, into a book, The Law of Superheroes (Gotham Books, a division of Penguin, forthcoming). More here from The National Law Journal.

August 8, 2012

New Sherlock Holmes Series Premieres September 27

CBS is launching a new Sherlock Holmes series, Elementary, on September 27 at 10 p.m. (9 Central time). The newest incarnation of Holmes and Watson is set in today's New York City and stars Johnny Lee Miller (Trainspotting) as Holmes and Lucy Liu (Ally McBeal, Charlie's Angels, Kill Bill) as Joan Watson. While CBS considers the show an adaptation (and a reboot), BBC execs seem to be somewhat miffed about elements contained in the new series. The producer of the current BBC show that stars Benedict Cumberbatch has said,  “Johnny is a very fine actor, who I saw recently in the theatre when he and Benedict played alternating roles in Frankenstein. Let's hope their pilot script has stayed further away from our Sherlock than their casting choice." Mr. Miller had shared the lead in a National Theatre production of Frankenstein with Mr. Cumberbatch. More discussion in the Washington Post here.

Meanwhile, the BBC's phenomenally successful reimagined Holmes series Sherlock, set in contemporary London, and now in its second season in the US, is trundling along.

A New Book on U.S. Legal and Religious History

Susan Sage Heinzelman, Director, Center for Women's and Gender Studies, University of Texas at Austin, tells us about this new publication by Nan Goodman from the University of Pennsylvania Press.

The University of Pennsylvania Press is pleased to announce the release of Banished: Common Law and the Rhetoric of Social Exclusion in Early New England by Nan Goodman. Nan Goodman is Associate Professor of English at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she also teaches law.Banished investigates Puritan practices of social exclusion through the lens of seventeenth-century New England common law. From religious dissident Anne Hutchinson to the Deer Island Indians, cases of banishment reveal the impact of legal rhetoric on our conceptualization, past and present, of community boundaries and belonging.
To receive a 20% discount on orders from, enter P4R4 in the promo code field.


Obama's Campaign Rhetoric

K. C. Morrison, Timothy Fair, and Aaron Rollins, all of Mississippi State University, have published Expanding the Myth of the American Republic: The Campaign Rhetoric of Barack Obama as an NCOBPS 43rd Meeting Paper. Here is the abstract.
This research is based on the analysis of presidential campaign speeches of Barack Obama to understand how he used rhetoric to create favorable opinion in a majority white voting constituency. Our argument is that Obama used rhetoric in a way that appropriated patriotic and multicultural elements associated with the American republic to redefine the myth of national identity. Speeches are analyzed in a variety of settings from which we are able to generate a set of clear and recurring patterns that compose a refashioned mythology.
The full text is not available from SSRN. 

Women's Speech

Eileen Hunt Botting, University of Notre Dame, is publishing Ascending the Rostrum: Hannah Mather Crocker and Women's Political Oratory in the Journal of Politics. Here is the abstract.

Although Hannah Mather Crocker (1752-1829) apparently presented a prescription against women's political oratory in her Observations on the Real Rights of Women (1818), she provided philosophical and historical challenges to this conventional rule of early nineteenth-century feminine propriety elsewhere in the first American treatise on women's rights. By analyzing new archival findings of two of her oratorical works from the early 1810s — her 1813 "Fast Sermon" against the War of 1812 and her 1814 "Address" to the advisory board of the School of Industry for poor girls in Boston's North End — I argue that Crocker also provided a personal challenge to this conventional rule. In philosophically, historically, and personally redefining women's political oratory as compatible with feminine propriety — during the post-revolutionary backlash against women's rights — Crocker helped pave the way for the strategic use of the constitutional rights of speech and association in the nineteenth-century American women's rights movement and beyond.
The full text is not available from SSRN. 

August 6, 2012

Call For Papers--Critical Approaches To International Criminal Law

Call for Papers – Critical Approaches to International Criminal Law

The first conference on Critical Approaches to International Criminal Law, organised by the University of Liverpool School of Law and Social Justice, will take place on Thursday 6th December and Friday 7th December 2012.

The field of International Criminal Law (ICL) has recently experienced a significant surge in scholarship, in institutions, and in the public debate. The contemporary debate is predominantly focussed on ICL’s contribution to projects of justice, peace, legality, addressing impunity and accountability. While there are individual sites of critique, they are largely limited to effectiveness arguments: If the International Criminal Court is not functioning as well as it could be, then it must be made more effective; if peace is not yet achieved through tackling impunity, then there must be more accountability. This limited critique has fostered a seemingly self-congratulatory, uncritical, and over-confident area of international law which has marginalised deeper critical approaches.

What is missing from the mainstream debate are the possible complicities of ICL in injustice, conflict, exclusions, and biases. Arguably, the numerous conferences this year on the topic of the 10-year anniversary of the coming into force of the Rome Statute are largely a testament to this limited critique. In this conference, we hope to shift the debate towards such complicities and limitations in the contemporary understanding of ICL. We hope to question some of the assumptions which inform the field and which may cause injustice, conflict, exclusion and bias.

Tentative sites of critique, which are envisaged as central to an idea of Critical Approaches to International Criminal Law (CAICL), are:

1.              ICL and the political
2.              ICL and individualism
3.              ICL and neo-liberalism
4.              ICL and ideology
5.              ICL and gender
6.              ICL and afrocentricism
7.              ICL crowding out other disciplines
8.              ICL and the emergence of a judiocracy

The first day of the conference is open to all and will take place at the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool. The second day will be a closed session including a writing workshop and an exchange of ideas on teaching CAICL; participation of this requires an invitation.

Please send abstracts of 500 words (max.) and a short bio (100 words max.) to by 01 September 2012. Selected speakers will be contacted by 28 September 2012. Draft papers will be due by 01 December 2012. A number of papers will be selected for an edited collection and/or a special issue. Completed papers will be due by end January 2013. The manuscript will be sent for consideration by March 2013.

A registration fee of £50 for academics and £100 for practitioners will be incurred. The registration fee income will go towards a travel grant for postgraduate students.

A New Book on Nineteenth Century Women, Law, and Literature

Now available:

In Contempt: Nineteenth-Century Women, Law, and Literature

by Kristin Kalsem

Available from Ohio State University Press

In Contempt: Nineteenth-Century Women, Law, and Literature explores the legal advocacy performed by nineteenth-century women writers in publications of nonfiction and fiction, as well as in real-life courtrooms and in the legal forum provided by the novel form.

The nineteenth century was a period of unprecedented reform in laws affecting women’s property, child support and custody, lunacy, divorce, birth control, domestic violence, and women in the legal profession. Women’s contributions to these changes in the law, however, have been largely ignored because their work, stories, and perspectives are not recorded in authoritative legal texts; rather, evidence of their arguments and views are recorded in writings of a different kind. This book examines lesser-known works of nonfiction and fiction by legal reformers such as Annie Besant and Georgina Weldon and novelists such as Frances Trollope, Jane Hume Clapperton, George Paston, and Florence Dixie.

In Contempt brings to light new connections between Victorian law and literature, not only with its analysis of many “lost” novels but also with its new legal readings of old ones such as Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1847), George Eliot’s Adam Bede (1859), Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865), Rider Haggard’s She (1887), and Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure (1895). This study reexamines the cultural and political roles of the novel in light of “new evidence” that many nineteenth-century novels were “lawless”—showing contempt for, rather than policing, the law.

“Kristin Kalsem’s In Contempt makes a significant contribution to scholarship on the history of feminist jurisprudence. She covers thorny legal issues including married women’s property, infanticide, and lunacy law, as well as birth control, imperialism, and women’s admission to the bar. In her afterword she urges scholars to engage the ‘new evidence’ she has brought to light—and I have no doubt that this evidence will be welcomed enthusiastically.”

Christine L. Krueger, professor of English, Marquette University

Kristin Kalsem received her J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School and her Ph.D. in English from the University of Iowa. She is professor of law and co-director of the Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice at the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

New York University Announces a New Database On the History of Undercover Reporting

From James Devitt, New York University:

NYU Launches History of Undercover Reporting Database
New York University has launched a database chronicling undercover journalism dating back to the 1800s. The archive, “Undercover Reporting,” includes an array of stories, ranging from the slave trade in 1850s to efforts to boycott Jewish-owned businesses in the U.S. in the late 1930s to treatment of soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the 21st century.
The database,, is a joint endeavor of Professor Brooke Kroeger of NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and the university’s Division of Libraries, where the Digital Library Technology Services team developed the online platform that hosts the database, with consultation from the Libraries’ Office of Digital Scholarly Publishing and its Collections and Research Services.
“Much of this material has long been buried in microfilm in individual libraries and thus very difficult to retrieve,” said Kroeger, who conceived and directed the project. “Most digitized newspaper archives do not go back past the 1980s or 1990s and even for those that do, it's difficult to search without exact details of the piece you are seeking.”
The database is designed for scholars, student researchers, and journalists, who can search by writer, publication, story topic, or method (e.g., prison infiltrations, shadowing migrants, impersonation, etc.). It also includes critics’ reactions to these tactics—for instance, their response to the use of hidden cameras.
The database coincides with the publication of Kroeger’s Undercover Reporting: The Truth about Deception (Northwestern University Press, Aug. 31, 2012), which emerged from this research. In the book, Kroeger posits that this type of journalism is not separate from the profession’s conventional practices but, rather, embodies some of its most important tenets—the ability to extract significant information or to create indelible, real-time descriptions of hard-to-penetrate institutions or social situations that deserve the public’s attention.
“Researching the book changed my perception of the practice and its role in journalism history, making clear how early reporters were experimenting with the method--notably northern reporters working to expose the slave trade in the south in the years leading up to the Civil War,” explained Kroeger.

The project is supported by NYU’s Humanities Initiative and the university’s Faculty of Arts and Science.

For more on the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, go to; for more on NYU’s Division of Libraries, go to; for more on the Division of Libraries Digital Library Technology Services, go to

Law On the Stage

The ABA Journal has posted its August 2012 Law In Popular Culture feature: this year it focuses on the theater's top twelve courtroom dramas. The jury's picks are The Merchant of Venice, Twelve Angry Men, Inherit the Wind, Judgment at Nuremberg, Witness for the Prosecution, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, A Man For All Seasons (which the feature has listed as The Man For All Seasons), Anatomy of a Murder, A Few Good Men, Chicago, Oedipus the King, and The Man in the Glass Booth.

I like all these choices, although I might have chosen some others in place of one or two of these, for example. What about The Andersonville Trial?

Which are your favorite courtroom plays?

August 2, 2012

Obama's Blackness

SpearIt, Saint Louis University School of Law, has published Why Obama is Black: Language, Law and Structures of Power at 1 Colum. J. Race & L. 468 (2012). Here is the abstract.

This essay offers a theoretical backdrop for mapping the law’s influence on common language, and more importantly, how concepts rooted in racism maintain in the American lexicon through the force of law. It examines the legal and social constructions of whiteness to argue that racial language and ideals of white superiority work in tandem to produce structural racism. Centuries of racial sedimentation have made some aspects of racism invisible to the eye, yet analysis of the post-racial concept as it relates to the president shows that debates on race and color are fundamentally flawed. Today’s racism is not simply the aggregate of individual interactions, but also political and institutional discrimination, and in particular, language authorized by law. This essay exposes the post-racial concept as a type of wishful thinking, and more critically, explains how the law prevents this wish from being fulfilled; indeed Obama has been offered up as the first “black” president despite the relentless “one drop” logic that supports the evidence.
Download the article from SSRN at the link. 

August 1, 2012

Southern Humanities Council Conference Call For Papers

From Keith Harmon, information on the Southern Humanities Council Conference

Call for Papers
Southern Humanities Council Conference
January 31-February 3, 2013The Hilton Savannah Desoto, Savannah, Georgia
“Boundaries: Real and Imagined”The 2013 Southern Humanities Council Conference invites proposals for papers on the theme “Boundaries: Real and Imagined.” The topic is interdisciplinary and invites proposals from all disciplines and areas of study, as well as creative pieces including but not limited to performance, music, art, and literature. Send proposals of 300-500 words to Mark Ledbetter at or if sending by U.S. Postal Service,  Mark Ledbetter, Executive Director, SHC, Box 2546, The College of St. Rose, 432 Western Avenue, Albany, NY 12203.  If possible, send all proposals by email.  Proposals are due by December 15, 2012. The conference registration fee is $100.00 or $85 for unaffiliated scholars and graduate students. Membership in SHC is $30.00 or $15 for unaffiliated scholars and graduate students.  Conference participants must pay membership and registration to attend and/or present at SHC.  You may visit our website at Topics are not limited to but may address any of the following areas. Pairings are not intended to imply binary thought, but rather to suggest a tradition of boundaries, real and imagined, for your considerations.
“Boundaries: Real and Imagined”
GeographyEast and West
GenderSocial Class
The Academy/DisciplinesReligion/Science
Human/AnimalHuman Beings/Machine

Remembering James Otis

Thomas K. Clancy, West Virgina University College of Law; University of Mississippi School of Law, has published The Importance of James Otis in volume 82 of the Mississippi Law Journal (2012). Here is the abstract.

Historical analysis remains a fundamentally important tool to interpret the words of the Fourth Amendment and no historical event is more important that James Otis’ argument in the Writs of Assistance Case in 1761. The Writs case and the competing views articulated by the advocates continue to serve as a template in the never-ending struggle to accommodate individual security and governmental needs. In that case, James Otis first challenged British search and seizure practices and offered an alternative vision of proper search and seizure principles. No authority preceding Otis had articulated so completely the framework for the search and seizure requirements that were ultimately embodied in the Fourth Amendment. More fundamentally, Otis’ importance then and now stems not from the particulars of his argument; instead, he played and should continue to play an inspirational role for those seeking to find the proper accommodation between individual security and governmental needs. Otis proposed a framework of search and seizure principles designed to protect individual security. James Otis, his vision, and his legacy have become largely forgotten outside a small circle of Fourth Amendment scholars. This essay is a modest attempt to recall his importance for contemporary construction of the Fourth Amendment.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.