September 30, 2013

The Return To the Bramble Bush

Anders Walker, Saint Louis University School of Law, has published  Bramble Bush Revisited: Karl Llewellyn, the Great Depression, and the First Law School Crisis, 1929-1939. Here is the abstract.

This article recovers the plight of legal education during the Great Depression, showing how debates over practical training, theoretical research and the appropriate length of law school all emerged in the 1930s. Using Bramble Bush author Karl Llewellyn as a guide, it strives to make three points. One, Depression-era critics of law school called for increased attention to practical skills, like today, but also a more inter-disciplinary curriculum – something current reformers discount. Two, the push for theoretical, policy-oriented courses in the 1930s set the stage for claims that law graduates deserved more than a Bachelor of Laws degree, bolstering the move away from a two year LL.B. and towards a mandatory three year Juris Doctor, or J.D. The rise of the J.D. following World War II, this article concludes, heightened the role of inter-disciplinary work in the first three years, even as it substantially diminished the role of advanced, graduate-level research, a point worth recalling as law school reformers, the ABA and, even the President of the United States lobby for shorter, more-practice oriented programs. While such proposals may be prudent, they may also warrant a return to plural law degrees.
Download the paper from SSRN at the link. 

September 26, 2013

There's An App For That!

If you like the show NCIS (I have to admit that I do think Mark Harmon is eye candy as well as a good actor and I loved David McCallum as Ilya Kuryakin oh so many years ago on The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) you might like the NCIS app, which allows you to play along with Gibbs, Ducky, and the rest of the team as they solve crimes. The app lets you discovers evidence for example--it gives you hints along the way, and characters from the show give you encouragement or suggest you're falling down on the job depending on how long it takes you to solve various stages of the game. I've played the game a little, and found it entertaining, but a little challenging. You have to have good eyesight, and apply some critical thinking. The app is available for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. More here.

Looking For Women's Rights In the Constitution

Jill Elaine Hasday, University of Minnesota Law School, has published Women's Exclusion from the Constitutional Canon in the University of Illinois Law Review for 2013. Here is the abstract.

This Essay asks why sex equality is outside the constitutional canon. While race discrimination is a canonical concern of constitutional law, the story of America’s struggles over and against sex discrimination is not widely taken to be a central, organizing part of our constitutional tradition — a defining narrative that exemplifies and expresses the nation’s foundational values and commitments. I offer three potential explanations for the exclusion of sex equality from the constitutional canon. First, the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence developed in ways that suggested that sex discrimination was not a core constitutional problem and concern, especially when compared to race discrimination. Second, the Court’s sex discrimination case law has focused narrowly on state action that draws explicit distinctions between women and men. The Court has little interest in reviewing facially neutral laws, no matter their contribution to women’s unequal status, so the Court hears few sex discrimination suits anymore. This paucity of case law contributes to the sense that conflicts over sex equality are no longer central to constitutional law, if they ever were. Third, the story of women’s resistance to sex discrimination may be less prominent in American constitutional law because this story is less prominent in American popular culture, and vice versa. The Essay concludes by exploring why sex equality may ultimately become part of the constitutional canon. The Court’s reading of the Equal Protection Clause to prohibit sex discrimination has become much less controversial since the 1970s. Moreover, new analogies have emerged in constitutional law, which over time have pushed sex discrimination closer to the core of the Equal Protection Clause. Courts, lawmakers, advocates, and scholars seeking constitutional protection from sexual orientation discrimination now routinely analogize sexual orientation to sex. The frequency and prominence of these analogies, which presuppose that struggles against sex discrimination are already central to our nation’s understanding of equality and equal protection, may help move sex into the constitutional canon at last.
Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

September 25, 2013

A New Award, Named For Penelope Pether

From Keith Bybee, Director, Institute for the Study of the Judiciary, Politics, and the Media at Syracuse University, announcement of a new award:

The Penny Pether Award for Law and Language Scholarship A passionate advocate for interdisciplinary scholarship in law, literature, and language, Penelope J. Pether was Professor of Law at Villanova University School of Law and former Professor of Law and Director of Legal Rhetoric at the American University Washington College of Law. Her own scholarship focused not only on law, literature, and language, but also on constitutional and comparative constitutional law; legal theory, including constitutional theory; common law legal institutions, judging practices, and professional subject formation. Beginning in November 2013, the Penny Pether Award for Law & Language Scholarship will be given annually to an article or essay published during the preceding year (September 1 to September 1) that exemplifies Penny’s commitment to law and language scholarship and pedagogy. The Committee selecting award recipients from among the articles and essays nominated will look for scholarship that not only embodies Penny’s passion and spirit but also has some or all of the following characteristics:1. “[S]cholarship concerning itself with the unique or distinctive insights that might emerge from interdisciplinary inquiries into ‘law’ grounded in the work of influential theorists of language and discourse.”2. Scholarship that “attempts to think through the relations among subject formation, language, and law.”3. Scholarship that provides “accounts of—and linguistic interventions in—acute and yet abiding crises in law, its institutions and discourses.”4. Scholarship and pedagogy that is “[c]arefully theorized and situated, insisting on engaging politics and law, [and that] charts ways for law and its subjects to use power, do justice.” More explanations and descriptions of these characteristics can be found in Penny’s chapter from which these quotations are drawn: Language, in Law and the Humanities: An Introduction (Austin Sarat et al. eds., Cambridge U. Press 2010). Nominations should be sent by October 25, 2013 to Jeremy Mullem at  You are free to nominate more than one work and to nominate work you’ve written.  Please provide a citation for each work you nominate. The Selection Committee includes Linda Berger, David Caudill, Amy Dillard, Ian Gallacher, Melissa Marlow, Jeremy Mullem, Nancy Modesitt, and Terry Pollman.  Members of the Selection Committee and other faculty at their schools are not eligible for the award.   ------------------------- Keith J. Bybee
Director, Institute for the Study of the Judiciary, Politics, and the Media at Syracuse University
Paul E. and the Hon. Joanne F. Alper '72 Judiciary Studies Professor, Syracuse University College of Law
Professor of Political Science, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs

Call For Papers: Annual Meeting of Law & Society/Africa Law and Society

From Mark Kende, Drake University Law School:

The forthcoming Annual Meeting of Law & Society will be held in Minneapolis from May 29 to June 1.  The Africa CRN invites proposals for panels (with submission of abstracts and a panel description), proposals for roundtables (with a description), proposals for Author Meets Reader events, or the submission of  independent papers related to Africa Law & Society issues.  Please list your event as being part of CRN 13 when you submit.  You should also consider whether other CRN’s may be interested in co-sponsoring.  The deadline for submissions to the conference is Tuesday, October 15, 2013.   All submissions must comply with Law & Society rules:    No time extensions will be allowed.
 If you have an independent paper that you would like the Africa CRN to try to match with a panel or would like the CRN’s assistance in organizing a panel or roundtable, please e-mail your paper or panel/roundtable proposal to Professor Brian Ray at by 5 p.m. eastern standard time on Monday October 7, 2013.
Among the numerous topics that could be addressed include:  the situation of women in African nations; customary law and traditions; the 20th Anniversary of South African independence; religion in African nations; constitutionalism and human rights; problems and success in governance at the national, regional, and local levels; the rise of Chinese influence in the region as well as other foreign influence; corruption; freedom of the press; problems related to poverty and war; issues of health and medical care; judicial functioning; the legal profession; and many other areas.
 Herewith is a description of the Africa CRN: the research focus of this CRN is on African law and society.  Open to all, this CRN aims to investigate the variety of levels and methods through which African law and society are constituted and change.  Recent annual meetings of the LSA have demonstrated that the Law and Society Association’s full potential for scholarship by Africans or about African law and society has not been achieved.  Likewise, African scholarship falling broadly within the law and society or socio-legal studies intellectual tradition has not been as prominent as could be the case.  Working both within the LSA and Africa, this CRN aims to organize panels for LSA annual meetings in Minneapolis and beyond.  The CRN also aims to promote and facilitate participation in African-located law and society scholarship initiatives.  The CRN is also pursuing funding and holding an African Institute, based loosely on the model of the LSA’s Summer Institutes.  While the CRN is African rather than South African, this CRN will both recognize and critique the role that South Africa plays in African law and society and in its scholarship.
  P.S.  Apologies for any list duplication.  If you know of someone not on the list who might be interested, please pass this on.  Thanks.  Mark
   Professor Mark KendeJames Madison Chair in Constitutional LawDirector, Drake University Constitutional Law Center2507 University Ave., Des Moines, IA 50311515-271-3354, 515-271-1858 (fax) Author, Constitutional Rights in Two Worlds:  South Africa and the United States (Cambridge Univ.), sample papers: Web Site:

Histories of the Law

Lawrence Friedman, New England Law School, has published Introduction to: 'Law and the Modern Condition: Literary and Historical Perspectives' in Law and the Modern Condition: Literary and Historical Perspectives (Lawrence Friedman, edl; Talbot Publishing, Clark: New Jersey, 2013). Here is the abstract.

Using fiction as a lens through which to view particular developments in the law, each of the essays in the new book, 'Law and the Modern Condition: Literary and Historical Perspectives' (Talbot Publishing, 2013), discusses a work of literary fiction — some classical (the tale of Ruth in the Bible, the fiction of Franz Kafka and Herman Melville, the plays of William Shakespeare) some modern (the post-September 11 fiction of William Gibson, Ken Kalfus, Claire Messud, Ian McEwan and Helen Schulman) — that concerns, directly or indirectly, the historical development of the law. This exploration of legal history through fiction pays particular attention to its relevance to our present circumstances and our growing concerns about terrorism and civil liberties. Each essay considers the legal lessons about the fictional event or events at its core, lessons that tell us something worth remembering as we continue to chart law’s evolution. These lessons, like those that may be found in all great literature, necessarily extend beyond the historical confines of the characters and plot and background of each story to embrace the modern condition — which, as these great stories suggest, is and always has been the only condition.
Download the essay from SSRN at the link. Thanks to Simon Stern, University of Toronto, for sending me the cite.

September 24, 2013

A Law and/in/as Literature Conference in Brazil, October 30 to November 1

From our colleague Jose Calvo Gonzalez at the University of Malaga, news of another extremely interesting conference, this one in Brazil. Here's a link to the call for papers and more information about the conference, which is devoted to law and literature, law as literature, and law in literature. The event,officially named the II COLÓQUIO INTERNACIONAL DE DIREITO E LITERATURA:  "A REPRESENTAÇÃO DO JUIZ E O IMAGINÁRIO SOCIAL,” takes place from October 30 through November 1 at the Auditório Central, Faculdade Meridional, Passo Fundo, RS, Brasil.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Ownership

Yxta Maya Murray, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, has published From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried: Carrie Mae Weems’ Challenge to the Harvard Archive at 8 Unbound: Harvard Journal of the Legal Left 1 (2013). Here is the abstract.

In the early 1990s, the artist Carrie Mae Weems appropriated daguerreotypes of enslaved people that are housed in Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. These incendiary images of Drana, Jack, Renty and Delia had been commissioned by Harvard Zoology Professor Louis Agassiz in the mid-1800s, supposedly in order to illustrate his theory of racial difference. However, Weems had signed a contract with the Peabody promising not to use the images without their permission, and she did not seek such approval before including the daguerreotypes in her now-famous series "From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried." Harvard threatened to sue Weems on the grounds of copyright infringement and breach of contract, though when Weems invited Harvard to conduct what she understood to be a difficult conversation about law, history, and race "in the courts," Harvard demurred.
In this essay, I consider the copyright and contract claims that Harvard might have depended upon in its litigation. With respect to the copyright infringement claim, I query whether the fair use doctrine’s requirement that an appropriator "transform" borrowed images or text might have provided Weems with a defense. This question ushers me into an extended meditation on the meaning of transformation as it relates to art, history, law, seeing, and slavery. I also query whether Harvard actually owned these images at all; such property ownership proves the foundation for their contract claim. I conclude that Harvard did indeed own these daguerreotypes, but struggle against that determination, since this property was wrested from Drana, Jack, Renty and Delia through violence and atrocity. In the interests of peace, remembrance, and racial justice, I maintain that no valid property law should recognize such a chain of title. Borrowing from the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, I draft a proposed law that would recognize the relics of enslaved people as cultural property and require the federally funded museums that now own them to give them back to the descendants of America’s enslaved peoples.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

Law and Humanities Junior Scholars Workshop Call For Papers

From Susan Sage Heinzelman, University of Texas, Austin:

CALL FOR PAPERS - Law & Humanities Junior Scholar Workshop

The University of Southern California Center for Law, History & Culture, UCLA School of Law, Columbia Law School, and Georgetown University Law School invite submissions for the tenth meeting of the Law & Humanities Junior Scholar Workshop to be held at USC School of Law in Los Angeles, CA on June 8 & 9, 2014. 


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, we welcome critical, qualitative work in the social sciences.  Based on anonymous evaluation by an interdisciplinary selection committee, between five and ten papers will be chosen 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. 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 and hotel expenses of authors whose papers are selected for presentation. Submissions (in Word, no pdf files) will be accepted until January 6, 2014, and should be sent by e-mail to: Center for the Study of Law and Culture,

Please be sure to include your name, institutional affiliation (if any), telephone and e-mail contact information.  For more information contact Cindy Gao, 212.854.0167 or, and to see past winners go to: Anne Dailey Katherine Franke Ariela Gross Naomi Mezey Paul Saint-Amour Hilary Schor Clyde Spillenger Nomi StolzenbergConveners 

September 23, 2013

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Is Still Relevant

Ann E. Tweedy, Hamline University School of Law, is publishing Reflections on Reading Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in the Legal Studies Forum (forthcoming). Here is the abstract.

This essay discusses the author's thoughts on Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, particularly related to femininsm, mind-body dualism, and peace of mind and oneness, especially with respect to technology.
Download the essay from SSRN at the link. 

September 20, 2013

A New Way To Examine Law and Film

Suzanne Bouclin, University of Ottawa, Common Law Section, has published Méthodologies ambidextres en droit (Ambidextrous Legal Methodologies) in Les cadres théoriques et le droit  347 (Georges Azzaria, ed.; Éditions Yvon Blais, 2013). Here is the abstract.

Dans cet ar ticle, j’élabore une métaphore pour aborder la recherche qui se trouve au carrefour du droit et du cinéma. Je qualifie cette approche d’ambidextre. Dans la première partie, je discute des modes interdisciplinaires de recherche juridique et je propose quelques lignes directrices en matière de travaux explicitement transdisciplinaires. Je décris ensuite la manière dont mes méthodes ambidextres s’efforcent d’être transdisciplinaires. Mon travail est ancré dans le droit et le cinéma, tout en se déplaçant audelà de ces disciplines, afin de faire émerger un sens par rapport à la marginalisation des personnes vivant en situation d’itinérance.

In this research, I elaborate a metaphor (ambidexterity) to describe research located at the law/film nexus. I discuss interdisciplinary models of legal research and provide a few guidelines for producing explicitly trans-disciplinary work. I describe how I deploy ambidextrous methods and methodology to explore the legal marginalization of street-involved people.
Download the essay from SSRN at the link. 

September 19, 2013

Eager Prosecutor Cuts Short Tom Hanks' Career As Juror

A trial in which actor Tom Hanks was serving as a juror skidded to a halt when a prosecutor not assigned to the case approached him during a break and "thanked him" for his service. Oh, dear. The D.A. on the case came to know about the communication and reported it to the judge. As a result, both the D.A. and the defense team reached a plea deal. No one faults Mr. Hanks, who by all accounts seems to have been both gracious and serious about his civic duty.

More here from the Telegraph, here from CNN.

In Memoriam: Penelope Pether

We are saddened to report the passing of Penelope Pether, Professor of Law at Villanova University, and a former member of the Board of Governors of the Law and Humanities Institute. Professor Pether was a distinguished member of the legal academy, and a noted scholar in the areas of criminal law and constitutional law, as well as in law and literature.

Professor Pether received her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Sydney, and later her Ph.D. in English from the same university. In addition, she practiced as an attorney in Sydney, and then in the New South Wales Ombudsman's Office.

During her extensive academic career, Professor Pether taught at the Universities of Sydney and Wollongong, at Southern Illinois University Law School, at American University Law School, and finally at Villanova Law School. She was also a beloved teacher and mentor. Included in her extensive and influential bibliography are articles published in the Stanford Law Review, the William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, the Washington & Lee Law Review, the Cardozo Law Review, the Sydney Law Review, Law & Critique, Law and Literature, Social Semiotics, and The Australian Feminist Law Journal. Her essays appear in collections published by such publishers as Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, and Edinburgh University Press. Lexis recently published the second edition of her Criminal Law casebook. She was also an editor of the SSRN online journal Law and Literature and the journal Law and Literature, and served on the editorial boards of the Waikato Law Review, Social Semiotics, and Law and Critique.

Professor Pether was also active in many conferences and associations, and was a gracious and generous colleague who made new members of the academy feel welcome in what can be a challenging environment. She was with us for far too short a time, and we will miss her.

Villanova Law School has published a remembrance of Professor Pether, with more information about her life and legacy, here.

September 17, 2013

Call for Papers, ASLCH

From James Martel, President, ASLCH: Information about next year's ASLCH's meeting, which will be held at the University of Virginia School of Law from March 10 to March 11.

March 10-11, 2014, University of Virginia, School of Law

We are pleased to announce that the Seventeenth Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities will be held at the University of Virginia School of Law, March 10-11, 2014. We invite your participation.  Please note, panel and paper proposals are due Tuesday, October 15th, 2013The Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities is an organization of scholars engaged in interdisciplinary, humanistically-oriented legal scholarship. The Association brings together a wide range of people engaged in scholarship on legal history, legal theory and jurisprudence, law and cultural studies, law and literature, law and the performing arts, and legal hermeneutics. We want to encourage dialogue across and among these fields about issues of interpretation, identity, and values, about authority, obligation, and justice, and about law's place in culture.

This year’s conference theme is as follows:
 The Politics of Law and the Humanities: Crisis, Austerity, InstrumentalismHow will law and the humanities scholarship fare against the pressure of the science and technology paradigm that has now permeated the institutional frameworks of academia? Will it mime the general humanities and, as suggested by the defeatist pomp of many national “crisis reports”, merely retreat to its traditional position as the well-mannered guardian of liberal values? Will law and the humanities scholarship be subsumed under the science paradigm’s instrumental ethos by either taking on aims and objectives sanctioned by government policies or by domesticating its own political potential to address those very same policies? Or can we imagine more salutary alternatives to defeatism and instrumental subsumption?

The terrain is well known. The ongoing economic crisis has engendered a worldwide decline in funding for research in the humanities showing sharp decreases between 2009 and 2012 with funds almost cut in half each year. The global trend is also detectable at national levels, with growing gaps between public investment into STEM subjects and the humanities. But the changes do not merely concern the fiscal prioritization of diminishing resources. The social sciences, including law, are under constant political pressure as lawmakers question the value of curiosity-driven basic research. This pressure is then mirrored at the institutional level of individual law schools emphasizing their vocational remits at the expense of research and scholarship. And this research and scholarship is itself increasingly cast in reformist, practical, and “policy relevant” terms, and directed to issues of perceived topical and regulatory concern.

The implied allegation is simple enough: basic research in the humanities and social sciences is, if not obsolete, then at least a luxury we can’t afford in these times; because it cannot satisfy the more immediate needs of market-driven societies in the current economic climate, it is politically irrelevant.

But can we imagine new ways to claim – or, perhaps, to reclaim – our political relevance? Are we relevant in other, perhaps more radical ways? And if we are, how? Is there a politics that is specific to law and the humanities? Or can we articulate the limits to the conversation about “relevance” in a way accessible to minds focused on instrumentality? How might we respond to our critics, or do we ignore them?

Participants are encouraged to reflect on this broad, but not exclusive, conference theme.

In addition to sessions that connect to the theme, examples of other types of sessions we expect to organize include: History, Memory and Law; Reading Race; Law and Literature; Human Rights and Cultural Pluralism; Speech, Silence, and the Language of Law; Judgment, Justice, and Law; Beyond Identity; The Idea of Practice in Legal Thought; Metaphor and Meaning; Representing Legality in Film and Mass Media; Anarchy, Liberty and Law; What is Excellence in Interpretation?; Ethics, Religion, and Law; Moral Obligation and Legal Life; The Post-Colonial in Literary and Legal Study; Processes and Possibilities in Interdisciplinary Law Teaching.
We urge those interested in attending to consider submitting complete panels, and we hope to encourage a variety of formats-roundtables, sessions at which everyone reads the papers in advance, sessions in which commentators respond to a single paper. We invite proposals for session in which the focus is on pedagogy or methodology, for author-meets-readers sessions organized around important books in the field, or for sessions in which participants focus on performance (theatrical, filmic, musical, poetic).

How to register:ASLCH uses a two part registration system (this will all be explained in detail on the website). First you register your paper or panel and pay a $35 membership fee. Then after January 10th, 2014, assuming your paper or panel is accepted, you go back to the same website (an email will be sent on that day to remind you) and pay the conference fee.

Here is the link to register:
 Hotel information:
We have reserved rooms in three Charlottesville hotels.  The main conference hotel, where we have reserved 80 rooms, is Hyatt Place, a brand-new hotel.  It is a short drive from the Law School, and they have a shuttle service.  The rate we negotiated is $139/night plus tax.  To reserve, call +1 434 426 4428 and state that you are a part of the ASLCH. You must reserve a room in Hyatt Place by Sunday, February 9.

For those of you who would rather be walking distance from the law school, we have reserved 30 rooms at the Inn at Darden, a hotel owned and operated by UVA's Darden School of Business, about a 5-minute walk from the law school.  To reserve a room there, call +1 434 243 5000 or, if in the US, 1-434-243-5000 and state that you are a part of ASLCH.  The rate for the room is $135/night plus tax. You will need to reserve a room by Saturday, February 1.

In case both of these hotels fill, we have also reserved 30 rooms at the Courtyard Marriott University.  It is a short drive from the Law School, and if enough participants are staying there, we may be able to run a bus to the conference.  To reserve a room online, please go to and use the booking code ASLASLA or ASLASLB. You can also call +1 434 977 1700 and state that you are a part of ASLCH. The room rate is $169/night plus tax. You will need to reserve a room by Sunday, February 9.

If you have any questions you can email the hotel managers directly at these addresses:
Hyatt Place: Sheleigha Early ( at Darden: Bridget Merker ( Marriot: Alex Jobin (  Prizes and nominations:  We have the following awards that we give out at our annual conference. If you would like to nominate someone for the awards, please email the people listed below who is associated with that prize. Please note unless otherwise noted, all prizes nomination deadlines are the same: November 15th, 2013.
Julien Mezey Award
The Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities invites submissions for the 2014 Julien Mezey Award. This annual prize is awarded to the dissertation that most promises to enrich and advance interdisciplinary scholarship at the intersection of law, culture and the humanities. The award will be presented at the Assocations Annual Conference, hosted by the University of Virginia on March 10-11, 2014.

The Association seeks the submission of outstanding work from a wide variety of perspectives, including, but not limited to law and cultural studies, legal hermeneutics and rhetoric, law and literature, law and psychoanalysis, law and visual studies, legal history, legal theory and jurisprudence. Scholars completing humanities-oriented dissertations in SJD and related programs, as well as those earning PhDs, are encouraged to submit their work. Applicants eligible for the 2014 award must have defended their dissertation successfully between September 1, 2012 and August 31, 2013.

For your nominations and submissions, please email Imani Perry at Applications and nominations are due by November 15, 2013
 The Austin Sarat Award
We are pleased to announce the Austin Sarat Award, a prize to be offered to a graduate student for a paper presented at an ASLCH annual conference. We are looking for papers that represent excellence in interdisciplinary thought, research and writing in the field of law, culture and the humanities. Although presentation of the paper at the conference is required to be eligible, the award winner will be chosen based upon finished papers submitted after the annual conference.
The deadline for this prize already passed (it was at the end of May, 2013) because we have the nomination process active while papers are still fresh in people’s mind. But keep this prize in mind for shortly after the 2014 conference ends. Please email Catherine Kellogg at with any questions.
 Graduate Student workshopThe Annual Law Culture and Humanities conference is pleased to offer a graduate student workshop designed for graduate students who are undertaking research that cuts across law, cultural studies, literature, philosophy, legal studies, anthropology, political science, economics. The workshop is designed to provide mentoring, practical advice on publishing and applying for work, as well as have some fun. Applications to the workshop should include a statement of research, a current curriculum vitae, and a short statement of the paper that each student will be presenting at the conference. There is limited space for the workshop, and so we cannot admit all (although we will do our best!). Please forward your application to by November 15.


September 16, 2013

Update On Conference on Blood Libel To Be Held November 14-15, 2013, at Cardozo Law School

On Nov.14-15, the Cardozo Law School Program on Holocaust Human Rights Studies, and the Law & Humanities Institute, will sponsor a conference on the tragic history of the "Blood Libel", in which Jews have been accused across the millennia of killing Christian children to use their blood in the Passover ritual. Originating in England early in the second millennium, the libel spread eastward to Russia, and it is not unknown in the United States and Canada.  

One of the most infamous of these libels was the Mendel Beilis case in the waning days of Tsarist Russia, and it is the 100th anniversary of the near-miraculous acquittal of Beilis that occasionalizes this conference. The scholarly centerpiece of our discussions will be Hannah R. Johnson's influential recent book, BLOOD LIBEL, a complex history of the phenomenon, and Prof. Johnson of the U. of Pittsburgh will speak; the literary centerpiece will be 
Bernhard Malamud's fictional rendering of the Beilis case,THE FIXER, which will be discussed widely by various speakers. Panelists include the grandson of Beilis and attorney Jeremy Garber, who have a major bone to pick with the novel; Prof. Vivian Curran of the U. of Pittsburgh Law School; Prof. David Fraser of the U. of Nottingham (UK); Prof. Jeffrey Mehlman of Boston U.; Prof. Harriet Murav of the U. of Illinois; Prof. Sanford Levinson of U. Texas Law School; and Prof. Richard Weisberg of Cardozo.

The event takes place in the Moot Court room of the Cardozo Law School,   55 Fifth Avenue,  NYC (12th and Fifth). The Thursday sessions, which include a lunch for all in attendance, are from 8:30-5:30; and the Friday sessions are from 9-12:30.

For further details and to reserve for the symposium, contact Johanna Rubbert at johannac.rubbert@gmail,com or Alyssa Grzesh,

September 13, 2013

Creating Art Out of Crime

Katherine Biber, University of Technology, Sydney, Faculty of Law, is publishing In Crime's Archive: The Cultural Afterlife of Criminal Evidence in the British Journal of Criminology. Here is the abstract.

This article explores the cultural afterlife of criminal evidence. During the criminal trial, strict rules govern the collection, admission and interpretation of evidence at trial. However, after the conclusion of the trial, this material returns to a notional ‘archive’ and is sometimes used by artists, scholars, curators and others, but subject to no rules nor standards. This article examines a range of instances in which criminal evidence has been used post-trial, and proposes a jurisprudence of sensitivity for responding to the harm that is sometimes done when criminal evidence leads a cultural afterlife.
Download the article from SSRN at the link. 

Here Comes the (Funny) Judge

Mary B. Trevor, Hamline University School of Law, is publishing Ostriches, Trees, the 'Perfect Trial,' and Sci-Fi: A Social Science Analysis of the Impact of Humor in Judicial Opinions in volume 45 of the University of Toledo Law Review (2014). Here is the abstract.

In the legal profession, understanding — or at least, formal analysis — of humor and its impact is in its infancy. Lawyers and judges are not trained to use or understand humor, although all would acknowledge that humor, cringe worthy or otherwise, is by no means unknown in the practice of law. But for most intents and purposes, we pretend that humor is not part of legal culture. When humor is addressed in the law school or professional advocacy context, for example, it typically gets short shrift: don’t try to be funny. Resources on judicial opinion writing, in particular, generally advise that humor is inappropriate, and commentators on judicial humor have offered similar, mostly negative, assessments.

Despite this advice, humor, while not widespread, is an ever-present aspect of the body of judicial opinions, an aspect that periodically attracts attention. One of the best-known recent examples is Gonzalez-Servin v. Ford Motor Co., an opinion by Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit. Multiple counsel in the case had, in Judge Posner’s view, ignored “apparently dispositive precedent” when presenting arguments. Unsatisfied with a mere holding, however, Judge Posner not only verbally compared the tactic to an ostrich burying its head in the sand, but also inserted two photographs into the opinion: one of an ostrich burying its head in the sand, and immediately following, one of a man dressed in traditional “attorney” attire burying his head in the sand. Legal newsletters and blogs picked up on Judge Posner’s opinion, but they were not the only sources to do so. The general press (the Wall Street Journal and the Chicago Tribune) did as well. And such treatment was for an opinion addressing an issue that was not a matter of public interest-forum non conveniens.

Judge Posner does not stand alone in his use of humor. There are even some indications that judicial use of humor in opinions is increasing. And in our era of rapid and widespread electronic communication, public awareness of this humor also appears to be increasing. In light of the evidence of continued use of humor in the face of advice and commentary largely counseling against its use, a reassessment of judicial humor seems warranted.
An additional reason for reassessment at this time comes to us from recent developments in the field of social science, which offers sophisticated tools for the job. In the last few decades, social scientists have greatly expanded the study of humor’s role in our society. Their theories offer new tools to assess judicial humor, to bring together the perspectives of earlier commentators on judicial humor, and to offer more comprehensive guidelines for judicial humor than have previously been offered.

The intent of this article is not to suggest that humor is always, or even often, appropriate in judicial opinions. But social science tells us that, despite the bad name humor has justly acquired based on its use in certain opinions, it may be possible for humor to be used appropriately, and even helpfully, in certain instances.

Download the article from SSRN at the link. 

September 12, 2013

The Development of Western Law From 565 CE

M. Stuart Madden, Pace University School of Law, has published Paths of Western Law after Justinian at 22 Widener L.J. 757 (2013). Here is the abstract.

This article relates the story of three principal paths of law in Western Europe from the periods preceding the gradual dissolution of the Western Roman Empire following the death of Justinian I in 565 A.D. through and including the several centuries thereafter. The period witnessed an acceleration of the absorption of Roman law into the customary law of the various Germanic groups that occupied and ruled the former Roman territories, and the recitation of such law in the form of new law codes promulgated by three of the major Gothic groupings: the Lombards, the Burgundians, and the Salian Franks.
In the main, the Germanic rulers were attentive to the need for laws that would suit not only German customary law as had been followed for many centuries, but also the Roman law to which their Roman constituencies, now under Germanic rule, had adhered. Importantly, even such Roman law as would be applied was only a bowdlerized version of Justinian’s contributions, as the Digests and other interpretative parts of the comprehensive Corpus Juris Civilis were somehow lost, only to be recovered some centuries later. Thus, for the first several centuries of Germanic rule, the only remnant of written Roman law available was the blunt-edged summarization contained in the Code of Justinian.
Germanic law was revolutionized by its new application to the governance of stable agricultural communities. The Gothic codes also advanced continental law in many ways that today can be seen as building blocks of emerging western law. Perhaps most significantly, the three law codes studied here demonstrate a preference for resolution of disputes by means of composition (compensation), and included monetary incentives therefore. By such means, the Goths were largely successful in turning their culture away from violent retributive justice towards systems of *758 composition for injury. Further to this end were the adoptions of wergeld as an appropriate compensation for a homicide, and also the widespread use of codified tables of composition to be associated with particularized lesser wrongs. These changes in Germanic law gave an increased likelihood of even-handed administration of justice, and provided also a monetized incentive for the family of a victim to forego mayhem in resolving disputes. As to the incidence of violent justice, many ancient Germanic practices, such as blood feud or trial by boiling water, were tamed or eliminated in the development of new agricultural societies. The Gothic codes also adopted remarkably modern distinctions between intentional and accidental harm, as well as negligence standards that assigned uncannily familiar significance to concepts of duty and proximate cause.
In sum, the law codes of the Lombards, the Burgundians, and the Salian Franks provided a civilizing legal bridge between the fall of the Western Empire and the more westernized law codes that would follow in the later Middle Ages. 
Download the article from SSRN at the link. 

September 9, 2013

Public Constitutionalism In the Ante-Bellum Cemetery

Alfred L. Brophy, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Law School, has published 'These Great and Beautiful Republics of the Dead': Public Constitutionalism and the Antebellum Cemetery as UNC Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2304305. Here is the abstract.

“Public Constitutionalism and the Antebellum Cemetery” joins the growing literature on public constitutionalism by focusing on the seventy addresses given at cemetery dedications from Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story’s address at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1831, through the addresses of Edward Everett and Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg in November 1863. The addresses were part of a vibrant public discussion of constitutional principles, which spanned such diverse occasions as July Fourth celebrations, arguments in great constitutional cases (like Daniel Webster’s Dartmouth College argument), dedication of public monuments (like Daniel Webster’s speech at the placement of the cornerstone of the Bunker Hill Monument in 1824), lyceum addresses, and college literary society lectures. For Americans, especially those of the Whig Party, the Constitution was a key component of culture and a key unifier of the nation.
Rural cemeteries provided support for such constitutional values. They brought beauty and order to the landscape; they served to mediate an impersonal, commercial world and brought uplift through the lessons of morality and patriotism that people learned when they visited the cemeteries. The cemetery supported constitutional values of Union, respect for property, and obedience to the rule of law. For visitors to the cemetery learned about the importance of each of those values at the cemetery. It was an instructor of values; its ordered lanes and graves also served as a sign of the health of the Christian republic. For the cemetery fulfilled duties owed the past. The cemetery inspired sentiments of love of family and country. People would leave the cemetery inspired to preserve the United States as a Christian republic. Finally, these abstract ideas were promoted through private charitable corporations. Those private organizations brought the community together to promote the republic.
The cemeteries were, thus, one important institution – along with the schools, churches, civic associations, and businesses – that helped create and preserve the Union. The cemetery dedication addresses, like other addresses designed to promulgate constitutional ideas, mixed appeals to economics, morality, religion, and political theory with legal and constitutional ideas. Rural cemeteries promoted Whig constitutional ideals about order, patriotism, and Union. Those values were at the center of the debate over the response to secession and they were put into practice by soldiers along Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg in 1863. Lincoln’s address at Gettysburg, thus, reflects the appeals to sentiment and Constitution that were so frequently invoked in the thirty years before the War.
This article reveals an important and neglected role of oratory in disseminating constitutional ideas, as well as the significance of rural cemeteries to public constitutional thought. This hidden history reveals how those ideas mobilized support for Union and, thus, how public constitutional thought affects the actions of voters, jurists, and politicians. 

Download the paper from SSRN at the link. 

September 5, 2013

Fifth National Congress of Teaching In Law, Valencia, Spain, September 11-13, 2013

From Professor Jose Calvo Gonzalez, information on the Fifth National Congress of Teaching in Law, “Las transformaciones en la docencia y el aprendizaje del Derecho”, to be held in Valencia from 11 to 13 September 2013, co-organized by the Institute of Human Rights. Here is a link to the program and to the texts.

September 4, 2013

Law and Humanities Institute and Cardozo Law School Sponsor Conference On History of Blood Libel

Upcoming: a fall conference sponsored by the Law and Humanities Institute and the Program on Holocaust Human Rights Studies, Cardozo Law School. Here is the description of the program from the Cardozo website:

On Nov.14-15, the Program on Holocaust Human Rights Studies and the Law & Humanities Institute will sponsor a conference on the tragic history of the "Blood Libel", in which Jews have been accused across the millennia of killing Christian children to use their blood in the Passover ritual. Originating in England early in the second millennium, the libel spread eastward to Russia, and it is not unknown in the United States and Canada. One of the most infamous of these libels was the Mendel Beilis case in the waning days of Tsarist Russia, and it is the 100th anniversary of the near-miraculous acquittal of Beilis that occasionalizes this conference. The scholarly centerpiece of our discussions will be Hannah R. Johnson's influential recent book, BLOOD LIBEL, a complex history of the phenomenon, and Prof. Johnson of the U. of Pittsburgh will speak; the literary centerpiece will be Bernhard Malamud's fictional rendering of the Beilis case,THE FIXER, which will be discussed widely by various speakers. Panelists include the grandson of Beilis and attorney Jeremy Garber, who have a major bone to pick with the novel; Prof. Vivian Curran of the U. of Pittsburgh Law School; Prof. David Fraser of the U. of Nottingham (UK); Prof. Jeffrey Mehlman of Boston U.; Prof. Harriet Murav of the U. of Illinois; Prof. Sanford Levinson of U. Texas Law School; and Prof. Richard Weisberg of Cardozo.
For further details and to reserve for the symposium, contact Johanna Rubbert at

September 3, 2013

Colonialism, Cultural Assumptions, Property Rights, and Land Law Reform

Robert Home, Anglia Ruskin University, has published ‘Culturally Unsuited to Property Rights?’: Colonial Land Laws and African Societies at 40 Journal of Law and Society 403 (2013). Here is the abstract.

Hernando de Soto, advocate of central registers of land rights, raised the possibility of Africans being culturally unsuited to property rights. This article argues that sub‐Saharan Africa's high proportion of tribal/communal land (as distinguished from private and public/state land) results from a combination of geography, history, and population distribution. External colonial rule created a dual system of land tenure that restrained private property rights in the tribal/communal land areas. The research draws upon archival evidence from the colonial land tenure panel chaired by Lord Hailey (1945–50). The finding is not that Africans are inherently culturally unsuited to property ownership, but that colonialism reinforced pluralistic forms of property rights, which create particular challenges to land law reform. 
The full text is not available for download from SSRN.