December 31, 2016

Forthcoming From @routledgebooks: The Secret Origins of Comics Studies

Forthcoming from Routledge Press: The Secret Origins of Comics Studies (Matthew Smith and Randy Duncan, eds., 2017). Here from the publisher's website is a description of the book's contents.
In The Secret Origins of Comics Studies, today’s leading comics scholars turn back a page to reveal the founding figures dedicated to understanding comics art. Edited by comics scholars Matthew J. Smith and Randy Duncan, this collection provides an in-depth study of the individuals and institutions that have created and shaped the field of Comics Studies over the past seventy-five years. From Coulton Waugh to Wolfgang Fuchs, these influential historians, educators, and theorists produced the foundational work and built the institutions that inspired the recent surge in scholarly work in this dynamic, interdisciplinary field. Sometimes scorned, often underappreciated, these visionaries established a path followed by subsequent generations of scholars in literary studies, communication, art history, the social sciences, and more. Giving not only credit where credit is due, this volume both offers an authoritative account of the history of comics studies and also helps move the field forward by being a valuable resource for creating graduate student reading lists and the first stop for anyone writing a comics-related literature review.

December 30, 2016

Dick Wolf, NBCU, and Oxygen Discussing Crime-Themed Rebranding @NBCUniversal @oxygen

According to Variety and the Hollywood Reporter, Dick Wolf and NBCU are in talks with Oxygen to rebrand the network as all crime, all the time. Oxygen has already begun programming some law and order programming, which speaks to the popularity that other networks (Discovery, A&E) have recognized that these kinds of shows continue to have among U.S. viewers. Currently, Oxygen programs several "true crime" shows, such as "Snapped," "It Takes a Killer," and "Homicide For the Holidays."

December 29, 2016

Will Monroeville Become Maycomb?

Harper Lee's attorney, Tonja Sheets, wants to turn Monroeville, Alabama, Ms. Lee's home town, into even more of a tourist attraction by creating a sort of "To Kill a Mockingbird Trail" there, with replicas of some of the buildings in the novel and establishment of a new museum in a converted bank building. More here from

University of Kent Law School @UniKent Announces New LLM in Law and the Humanities

From the mailbox, news of a new LLM in Law and the Humanities:

The Kent LLM is a one-year program that offers a chance to study law from a critical perspective. The Law and the Humanities pathway is taught at Kent’s Canterbury campus, with two intensive modules in Paris. You can learn more about the pathway in the notice attached to this email, and at We also offer a LLM by research, with supervision available from a wide range of law and the humanities specialists. KLS is an exciting critical law school, with research centres such as the Centre for Critical Thought, the Centre for Critical International Law, and the Kent Interdisciplinary Centre for Spatial Studies, as well as research clusters like Social Critiques of Law and Clio (the Law and History group). KLS also hosts the Kent Summer School in Critical Theory, held each year in Paris. This exciting initiative draws graduate and early career researchers from around the world to work intensively for two weeks with leading scholars from across all disciplines. You can learn more at There are some LLM scholarships (for taught and research programmes) available both for UK/EU and overseas applicants. More information is available on the KLS website, at We would be most grateful if you would forward this email, together with the attachment, to:
  • Your academic networks
  • Law students who may appreciate a master’s level entry to humanities and cultural approaches to law
  • Students from other disciplines who are curious about law, ethics and justice
  • Students who may enjoy the chance to study in the UK and Paris, and who are looking for a way to experience European life and culture whilst studying for a year.
 For administrative and application enquiries, please contact Kent Law School’s postgraduate office, For academic enquiries, please contact the Pathway Specialists, Maria Drakopoulou or Connal Parsley 

ICYMI: Lee on The American Slave Narrative and the Victorian Novel


Julia Sun-Joo Lee has published The American Slave Narrative and the Victorian Novel (Oxford University Press, 2012). Here from the publisher's website is a description of the book's contents.
Conceived as a literary form to aggressively publicize the abolitionist cause in the United States, the African American slave narrative remains a powerful and illuminating demonstration of America's dark history. Yet the genre's impact extended far beyond the borders of the U.S. The American Slave Narrative and the Victorian Novel investigates the shaping influence of writings by Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, and other former slaves on British fiction in the years between the Abolition Act and the Emancipation Proclamation. Julia Sun-Joo Lee argues that novelists such as Charlotte Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Charles Dickens integrated into their works generic elements of the slave narrative-from the emphasis on literacy as a tool of liberation, to the teleological journey from slavery to freedom, to the ethics of resistance over submission. It contends that Victorian novelists used these tropes in an attempt to access the slave narrative's paradigm of resistance, illuminate the transnational dimension of slavery, and articulate Britain's role in the global community. Through a deft use of disparate sources, Lee reveals how the slave narrative becomes part of the textual network of the English novel, making visible how black literary, as well as economic, production contributed to British culture.

ICYMI: American Guy: Masculinity In American Law and Literature (OUP, 2014)

ICYMI: American Guy: Masculinity in American Law and Literature (Saul Levmore and Martha C. Nussbaum eds., Oxford University Press, 2014). Here from the publisher's website is a description of the book's contents.
American Guy examines American norms of masculinity and their role in the law, bringing a range of methodological and disciplinary perspectives to the intersection of American gender, legal, and literary issues. The collection opens with a set of papers investigating "American Guys" -- the heroic nonconformists and rugged individualists that populate much of American fiction. Diverse essays examine the manly men of Hemingway, Dreiser, and others, in their relation to the law, while also highlighting the underlying tensions that complicate this version of masculinity. A second set of papers examines "Outsiders" -- men on the periphery of the American Guys who proclaim a different way of being male. These essays take up counter-traditions of masculinity ranging from gay male culture to Philip Roth's portrait of the Jewish lawyer. American Guy, a follow-up to Subversion and Sympathy, edited by Alison L. LaCroix and Martha Nussbaum, aims at reinvigorating the law-and-literature movement through original, cross-disciplinary insights. It embraces a variety of voices from both within and outside the academy, including several contributions from prominent judges. These contributions are particularly significant, not only as features unique to the field, but also for the light they throw on the federal bench. In the face of a large body of work studying judicial conduct as a function of rigid commitment to ideology, American Guy shows a side of the judiciary that is imaginatively engaged, aware of cultural trends, and reflective about the wider world and the role of the of law in it.

December 28, 2016

Douma on How the First Ten Amendments Became the Bill of Rights

Michael Douma, Georgetown University, is publishing How the First Ten Amendments Became the Bill of Rights in the Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy (forthcoming). Here is the abstract.
The term “the Bill of Rights” used as a proper noun to refer specifically and exclusively to the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution was largely a result of civic education drives in the 1920s and 1930s. Many in the founding generation called for a bill rights to be attached to the Constitution, but they never called the first ten amendments “the Bill of Rights.” In the nineteenth century, these amendments had little power, and the bill of rights (usually not capitalized) was often thought to be an abstract set of principles, existing prior to and not coequal with the first ten amendments. Through a gradual linguistic evolution, driven by a need to define and apply political principles, Americans created “the Bill of Rights” and imbued it with iconic status. This occurred first in legal language in the 1890s, and spread into textbooks, before entering the vocabulary of contributors to newspapers. In the 1930s, while courts and political leaders looked to the Bill of Rights to justify the federal expansion of power, Americans discovered that this iconic document could be used to resist the same. As they debated the nature, purpose, and application of the Bill of Rights, Americans clarified the meaning of the term and empowered it.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

Carugati @Ostrom_Workshop and Weingast on Decision-Making in the Athenian Law-Courts

Federica Carugati, Indiana University, Bloomington, Ostrom Workshop, and Department of Political Science, and School of Law, and Barry R. Weingast, Stanford University Department of Political Science, have published Rethinking Mass and Elite: Decision-Making in the Athenian Law-Courts. Here is the abstract.
In the Athenian law-courts, wealthy, educated, and powerful elites fought one another to prevail as leaders and advisors of the masses. Regulated by the masses’ ideals of a good society, elite competition pushed Athens toward stability, prosperity and cultural immortality. Or did it? This article puts pressure on the mass and elite model of Athenian litigation (M&E). According to the M&E model, litigation is a game played by elite litigants and mass audiences; elite litigants seek to win over their opponents as a means to gain honor; and the masses constitute a monolithic body with identical preferences. This model, we suggest, does not adequately explain the dynamics of law- and policy-making in the Athenian courts. Combining findings from two separate bodies of literature in classics and political science, we build a new model of Athenian litigation that modifies the M&E model in two fundamental respects: first, jurors’ preferences are meaningfully pluralistic, therefore litigants (who are not only elites) face uncertainty as to the precise position of the median juror; and second, litigants want to win, but they also have preferences over policy/legal outcomes. Our model identifies the mechanisms that enabled diverse interests to be advanced and negotiated in ways that fostered both stability and innovation in Athenian law- and policy-making.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

December 20, 2016

Call for Papers, Albany Law School: Conference, The Politics of Difference and the Threshold of Law, March 31-April 1, 2017

Albany Law School is hosting a Conference in Law and the Humanities March 31-April 1, 2017. The theme is The Politics of Difference and the Threshold of Law.  Note that this conference takes place at the same time as the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities meeting next year.  Lots of opportunities for law and humanities folks to present their work.

Here are the description and CFP:



A CONFERENCE IN LAW AND THE HUMANITIESTHE LIBERAL STUDIES PROGRAM, UNIVERSITY AT ALBANY & ALBANY LAW SCHOOL MARCH 31 APRIL 1, 2017  ALBANY LAW SCHOOL, ALBANY NEW YORK This conference hosts a multidisciplinary conversation on how we contend with the emergence of violence toward difference, before it receives remedial treatment by the law, that is, before it crosses the threshold of the rule of law. Many perhaps most forms of injustice persist for long periods of time beneath the threshold of the law, and may continue indefinitely (one thinks of recent debates about the Confederate flag at the South Carolina State Capitol, following the Charleston Church shooting). Many social institutions outside the legal system are forced to develop strategies of negotiating violence, even when this is not their principal function (one thinks of recent university responses to racial and sexual violence at the University of Missouri and elsewhere). Other social institutions that may not appear to be concerned with law can in fact be shown to have a significant engagement with legal issues (one thinks of Greek tragedy in democratic Athens, or the sentimental novel in nineteenth-century America, or the development of post-colonial studies in the university). NGO activity and social movements such as Occupy and Black Lives Matter, respond to violence and injustice, both before and after the law has intervened. Violence constructed around difference appears in contexts that may initially seem remote (consider the role of science in generating debate about environmental justice). It gives rise to new strategies of social transformation, in conditions where legal action appears impossible (such as with the Truth Commission in South Africa). Legal systems themselves adjust and transform in response to new social conditions. How are we to understand the various ways in which violence is negotiated, within the law and beyond the threshold of law? These questions bear on the constant disequilibrium between “law” and “justice.” The conference invites papers that speak to these issues from a broad range of disciplines and perspectives.
 Papers and panel proposals are invited. For papers, please provide a name, institutional affiliation, title and abstract of 200-300 words; for panels, the same information for each participant. Send to Charles Shepherdson, Director of Liberal Studies, University at Albany, Deadline Feb. 15, 2017.

December 19, 2016

"Madame Bovary"'s Obscenity Trial: Was It Really About IP Rights?

Erin Blakemore writes about the obscenity trial of Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary for JSTOR Daily., discussing Christine Haynes' article The Politics of Publishing During the Second Empire: The Trial of "Madame Bovary" Revisited which argues that the author and fellow artists were interested in upholding their intellectual property rights more than their right to freedom of expression. More here. 

I See In Your Future...Some Research Into Fortune Telling and the Law @hulu @shuteyeonhulu

Explore the legal issues raised on the new Hulu series Shut Eye by dipping into some of the essays and articles listed below:

In Law and Magic: A Collection of Essays (C. A. Corcos, ed., Carolina Academic Press, 2010), try out

Julie D. Cromer, It's In the Cards: The Law of Tarot (and Other Fortumes Told)
Craig Freeman and Stephen Banning, Rogues, Vagabonds, and Lunatics: How the Right to Listen Cleared the Future For Fortune Tellers
Pamela Edwards, Non-Mainstream Religions and the Law

Christine A. Corcos, Prosecutors and Psychics on the Air: Does a "Psychic Detective Effect" Exist? in Law and Justice on the Small Screen (Jessica Silbey and Peter Robson eds., Hart Publishing, 2012).

Christine A. Corcos, Seeing It Coming Since 1945: State Bans and Regulations of "Crafty Sciences" Speech and Activity, 37 T. Jefferson L. Rev. 39 (2014/15).

Christine A. Corcos, The Scrying Game: The First Amendment, State Regulation of the Crafty Sciences, and the Rise of Spiritualism, 1848-1944, forthcoming in v. 38 of Whittier L. Rev. (2017).

Nicole Brown Jones, Did Fortune Tellers See This Coming? Spiritual Counseling, Professional Speech, and the First Amendment, 83 Miss. L.J. 639 (2014).


the Atlantic piece All in the Cards here.

See also Michael Wilson, A Manhattan Fortuneteller Cost Him Fortune After Fortune, New York Times, June 5, 2015.

Mawani on Law, Settler Colonialism, and the "Forgotten Space" of Maritime Worlds

Renisa Mawani, University of British Columbia, has published Law, Settler Colonialism, and 'The Forgotten Space' of Maritime Worlds at 12 Annual Review of Law and Social Science 107 (2016). Here is the abstract.
Law and settler colonialism is not a self-evident, contained, or straightforward field of inquiry. Rather, it uneasily straddles two overlapping bodies of scholarship: legal histories of colonialism and settler colonial studies. In part one, I place these literatures into conversation to trace their contributions, overlaps, and incommensurabilities. In part two, I turn to maritime worlds as a method of speaking across their analytic divides. Here, I consider the Torrens as a system of land registry inaugurated in the colony of South Australia (1858) and as the last clipper ship to be built in Britain (1875). In its recurring and double life, the Torrens offers an illuminating nineteenth-century example of the interconnection and interdependence of land and sea that serves as a useful lesson today. The global exigencies that arise from the past, organize the present, and impinge on the future demand a shift from terrestrial thinking toward the aqueous and amphibian legalities of settler colonial power.
The full text is not available from SSRN.

Garcia-Villegas on A Comparison of Sociopolitical Legal Studies

Mauricio Garcia-Villegas, Sr., University of Wisconsin, Platteville, has published A Comparison of Sociopolitical Legal Studies at 12 Annual Review of Law and Social Science 25 (2016). Here is the abstract.
This article compares sociopolitical perspectives about the law in three regions of the world: the United States, France, and Latin America. Despite their heterogeneity, these sociolegal perspectives share many practical and theoretical similarities. For this reason, this article proposes grouping them under the more general title of sociopolitical legal studies (SLS). This general label includes a collection of transdisciplinary research, theories, and studies that view law as a sociopolitical phenomenon central to the understanding of power and society. The concept of SLS reveals the existence of a transversal ground between three academic disciplines: sociology of law, legal theory, and sociolegal studies, which, in spite of multiple connections, rarely communicate with one another. Additionally, the term studies is used in a broad sense, including not just legal theories but also empirical analyses of the law.
The full text is not available from SSRN.

Engineering Ethics and Star Wars @scifipolicy @BoingBoing

The ethics of the Death Star. Discussion at BoingBoing, from SciFi Policy.

Call For Papers: First Conference on History, Law, and Politics, Federal University of Paraiba, Brazil, March 15-17, 2017 @legalhistory @UFPBoficial

Via Legal History Blog

CFP: History, Law and Politics in Brazil

The editors of the journal, Prima Facie, in conjunction with the research groups, Legal History Studies, as well as the Research and Study Network on Human Rights & Education Policy at the Federal University of Paraiba, announce the 1st Conference on History, Law, and Politics, to be held from the 15th to the 17th of March 2017 at the Federal University of Paraiba located in João Pessoa, Paraiba, Brazil. In accordance with the theme of the conference and its network groups, a range of content will be discussed aiming to understand how concepts in the disciplines of History, Political Science, and Law may intertwine to benefit the training of legal students, historians, and scholars from related fields. Researchers interested in the conference may apply to present their work as well as to attend the sessions. Participants will be divided into groups of oral presentation according to their topics of study, and whether their works are in-progress or completed. An abstract book with the complete program will be available online. A special call is under preparation for two editions of Prima Facie journal, ISSN 1678-2593. These issues, containing the selection of 40 articles amongst the works presented at the conference, will be published in 2017. A peer-reviewed book will also be published in English after the conference has been completed. We accept papers in Portuguese, English, and Spanish [here].  We are on Facebook.

December 18, 2016

More About "The Good Fight", CBS's New Legal Drama @thegoodfight

Some info about The Good Wife spinoff, The Good Fight, from Entertainment Weekly.  It will feature Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski)'s personal and professional relationships as she restarts her career at the law firm of Lucca, Quinn. We'll also get to meet Ms. Lockhart's goddaughter Maia (Rose Leslie), a newly minted attorney, who's in a relationship with another lawyer played by Helene York. The show premieres on CBS's All-Access streaming service February 19th.

December 17, 2016

A Podcast About Crime and Pop Culture @HBOWestworld

Check out this podcast from true crime writers Rebecca Lavoie, Kevin Flynn, Toby Ball, Lara Bricker, and others. It's called Crime Writers On...and it features discussion of true crime, the media, and popular culture. A recent episode features a discussion of the HBO series Westworld. 

Imagining Literary Characters, With the Assistance of a Police Artist

Via @christianbok

The nice thing about fiction is that it allows you to imagine in your mind's eye what characters look like, even though authors do often provide you with some notion of those characters' physical attributes. Thus, the arguments over whether one actor or another should play the role in the inevitable movie. But what happens if a police sketch artist, or someone doing a similar job, tries her hand at producing images of literary characters, using the type of kit that police artists use to assist witnesses in identifying suspects? Brian Davis has done just that. Here are some of his results.

More about a police or forensic artist's work here.

December 16, 2016

Call For Papers: Captivating Criminality, June 29th-July 1st, 2017

Via Thom Giddens @ThomGiddens
Call for Papers: Captivating Criminality 4

Crime Fiction: Detection, Public and Private, Past and Present 29th June – 1st July 2017
Corsham Court, Bath Spa University, UK
The Captivating Criminality Network is delighted to announce its fourth UK conference. Building upon and developing ideas and themes from the previous three successful conferences,
Crime Fiction: Detection, Public and Private, Past and Present will examine what is arguably the very heart of this field of critical study. Crime fiction narratives continue to gain in both popularity and critical appreciation. This conference will consider the ways in which both the public and private aspects of criminality and detection merge and differ from each other.
The police detective, bound by laws of the state (however loosely adhered to) brings a different set of skills and methods of detection than the often maverick private eye. Of course, detection includes the criminals who attempt to avoid capture – the term ‘anti-hero’ can apply to both upholders of the law and to those evading it.
A key question that this conference will address is the enduring appeal of crime fiction and its ability to incorporate other disciplines such as Criminology, Film, and Psychology. From the ‘sensational’ novelists of the 1860s to today’s ‘Domestic Noir’ narratives, crime fiction has proved itself exceptionally proficient in expanding its parameters to encompass changes in the wider culture. With this in mind, we are interested in submissions that approach crime narratives from the earliest days of crime fiction up until the present day.
This international, interdisciplinary event is organised by Bath Spa University and the Captivating Criminality Network, and we invite scholars, practitioners and fans of crime writing, as well as interested parties from Criminology, Psychology, Sociology, and Film and Media, to participate in this conference that will address these key elements of crime fiction and real crime.
Topics may include, but are not restricted to:  
The Detective, Then and Now
The Anti-Hero
True Crime
Contemporary Crime Fiction
Victorian Crime Fiction
The Golden Age
Hardboiled Fiction
Forensics and Detection
The Body as Evidence (silent witness)
Crime and Clues
Dostoevsky and Beyond: The Genealogy of Crime Writing Fatal Femininity Seduction and Sexuality The Criminal Analyst Others and Otherness Landscape and Identity The Country and the City The Media and Detection Adaptation and Interpretation Justice Versus Punishment Lack of Order and Resolution

  Please send 300 word proposals to Dr. Fiona Peters
 ( by 13th February 2017. The abstract should include your  name, email address, and affiliation, as well as the title of your paper. Please feel free to  submit abstracts presenting work in progress as well as completed projects. Postgraduate  students are welcome. Papers will be a maximum of 20 minutes in length. Proposals for  suggested panels are also welcome.
 ​ Attendance fees: £145 (£95 students)

Kastenberg on War Time Hysteria, 1917: Senator Miles Poindexter, "American-Ness," and the Strange Case of Colonel Carl Reichmann

Joshua E. Kastenberg, University of New Mexico School of Law, has published War Time Hysteria, 1917: Senator Miles Poindexter, 'American-Ness,' and the Strange Case of Colonel Carl Reichmann. Here is the abstract.
One hundred years ago, after the United States entered into World War I, Congress passed the Espionage Act and other significant limitations on basic freedoms. Several state governments likewise vigorously prosecuted alleged "subversives" under anti-syndicalism acts. The diminution of basic rights and the treatment of ethnic German minorities has been the subject of scholarship since. However, the treatment of German minorities in the armed forces has not been thoroughly studied, even though such a study could add to the broader field of civil-military relations. Nor has the wartime behavior of legislators in regard to the armed forces as well as their contribution to the popular prejudices of the day, and its effect on the national polity been the subject of analysis. This article, which presents a singular event, is a microcosm of civil-military relations and wartime hysteria during the period in which the United States participated in World War I. It is not my intent to focus on the accomplishments of Colonel Reichmann or argue that he was wrongly denied a promotion. Rather, it is my intent to examine how a singular senator who did not serve on a relevant committee was able to master a popular prejudice to manipulate legislative and executive processes to achieve political – albeit short lived – prominence.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

December 15, 2016

Slocum on The Nature of Legal Interpretation: What Jurists Can Learn About Legal Interpretation From Linguistics and Philosophy

Brian G. Slocum, McGeorge School of Law, is publishing Introduction: The Nature of Legal Interpretation: What Jurists Can Learn about Legal Interpretation from Linguistics and Philosophy in The Nature of Legal Interpretation: What Jurists Can Learn About Legal Interpretation From Linguistics and Philosophy (University of Chicago Press, 2017). Here is the abstract.
Language shapes and reflects how we think about the world. It engages and intrigues us. Our everyday use of language is quite effortless — we are all experts on our native tongues. Despite this, issues of language and meaning have long flummoxed the judges on whom we depend for the interpretation of our most fundamental legal texts. Should a judge feel confident in defining common words in the texts without the aid of a linguist? How is the meaning communicated by the text determined? Should the communicative meaning of texts be decisive, or at least influential? To fully engage and probe these questions of interpretation, this volume draws upon a variety of experts from several fields, who collectively examine the interpretation of legal texts. In The Nature of Legal Interpretation, the contributors argue that the meaning of language is crucial to the interpretation of legal texts, such as statutes, constitutions, and contracts. Accordingly, expert analysis of language from linguists, philosophers, and legal scholars should influence how courts interpret legal texts. Offering insightful new interdisciplinary perspectives on originalism and legal interpretation, these essays put forth a significant and provocative discussion of how best to characterize the nature of language in legal texts.
Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

Leiter @BrianLeiter on Legal Positivism About the Artifact Law in a Forthcoming Book on Law As Artifact @OxUniPress

Brian Leiter, University of Chicago, is publishing Legal Positivism About the Artifact Law: A Retrospective Assessment in Law as Artifact (L. Burazin et al., eds., Oxford University Press, 2017). Here is the abstract.
This paper defends legal positivism against the backdrop of the assumption that law is an artifact, not a natural kind, and that it is an artifact whose nature does not depend on the intentions of a creator. I argue that even within the constraint imposed by the metaphysics of what law is, positivism satisfies the most important theoretical desiderata, including locating law within a naturalistic worldview.

Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

McDougall on Royal Bastards: The Birth of Illegitimacy, 800-1230 (Oxford University Press, 2016) @JohnJayCollege @OxUniPress

Sara McDougall, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, has published Royal Bastards: The Birth of Illegitimacy, 800-1230 (Oxford University Press, 2016) (Oxford Studies in Medieval European History). Here from the publisher's website is a description of the book's contents.
The stigmatization as 'bastards' of children born outside of wedlock is commonly thought to have emerged early in Medieval European history. Christian ideas about legitimate marriage, it is assumed, set the standard for legitimate birth. Children born to anything other than marriage had fewer rights or opportunities. They certainly could not become king or queen. As this volume demonstrates, however, well into the late twelfth century, ideas of what made a child a legitimate heir had little to do with the validity of his or her parents' union according to the dictates of Christian marriage law. Instead a child's prospects depended upon the social status, and above all the lineage, of both parents. To inherit a royal or noble title, being born to the right father mattered immensely, but also being born to the right kind of mother. Such parents could provide the most promising futures for their children, even if doubt was cast on the validity of the parents' marriage. Only in the late twelfth century did children born to illegal marriages begin to suffer the same disadvantages as the children born to parents of mixed social status. Even once this change took place we cannot point to 'the Church' as instigator. Instead, exclusion of illegitimate children from inheritance and succession was the work of individual litigants who made strategic use of Christian marriage law. This new history of illegitimacy rethinks many long-held notions of medieval social, political, and legal history.


Lo on the Need for a Clearer Set of Arbitration Rules on the Issues of Translation and Language Interpretation

Chang-fa Lo, National Taiwan University, has published Beyond Semantics and Semiotics ─ Arguing for a Clearer Set of Arbitration Rules on the Issues of Translation and Language Interpreting at 9 Contemporary Asia Arbitration Journal 197 (2016). Here is the abstract.
Although the linguistic issues concerning the appropriate and accurate translation of documents and concerning language interpreting of statements in an arbitration proceeding are important, it is of even higher systemic importance that legal issues relating to translation and language interpreting are properly identified and addressed in arbitration rules. The paper argues that translation and language interpreting between different languages in arbitration and other legal proceedings involves certain important legal issues. Since translation and language interpreting involves legal issues, the paper argues that it is legally and practically desirable to include certain provisions in arbitration rules to address such legal issues so as to avoid translation and interpreting being made and conducted in a manipulated or distorted manner. The paper proposes some general principles to be included in the arbitration rules, such as the requirement of good faith in translation; the requirement that all translation and interpreting are subject to the other party’s challenge, among others. The paper also proposes some specific principles to be included in arbitration rules, such as the submitting party to be responsible for the result of its translation; an interpreter to be prohibited to actually help correct, modify or distort the statement of the party, and the translator or language interpreter to be prohibited to actually “interpret” or “distort” the law or contract provision or the evidence.

The Best TV of 2016

Two assessments of the best shows of 2016, one from Tim Goodman and the other from Daniel Fienberg.

The law-related shows Mr. Goodman likes most (note that his list is longer than Mr. Fienberg's by a substantial amount):  The Last Panthers, Orange Is the New Black, Westworld, Mr. Robot, Better Call Saul, Veep, Game of Thrones, Rectify, Happy Valley, The People Vs. O.J. Simpson, and The Americans.

Those Mr. Fienberg appreciates: The People vs. O.J. Simpson, Veep, Happy Valley, The Americans, and O.J.: Made in America.

Ng on Analytical Jurisprudence in the Age of Naturalized Ethics

Alina Ng, Mississippi College School of Law, is publishing Picking at Morals: Analytical Jurisprudence in the Age of Naturalized Ethics in volume 25 of the Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal (2017). Here is the abstract.
Morality in analytical jurisprudence has always assumed a metaphysical and theoretical character. As morality and the law are connected in distinctive ways, morality plays a pivotal role in one’s understanding of the concept of law. Thus far, we have taken moral norms as providing a reliable measure of right and wrong actions. But the naturalization of ethics in moral philosophy has introduced research findings from the natural sciences which suggest that morality is far more nuanced and varied than we have come to assume. Some moral norms, evolutionary biology has shown us, have less to do with propriety, righteousness, or civility, and more to do with developed biological responses to our surrounding environment. Other moral norms emerged because of political reasons rather than rectitude. This paper argues that we should consider seriously these new findings about our moral psychology in the conceptualization of law in analytical jurisprudence. Morality, if it is an unreliable source of good conscience, cannot and should not be used to provide laws with the normative force it needs to justify the imposition of obligations or to govern with legitimate authority. Until neuroscientists and developmental psychologist are able to determine with some definiteness how our capacity for moral decisions functions and establish morality as a universal feature of humankind, we need to be cautious in how much faith we place on morality as a standard setting norm to separate right from wrong.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

Berger on "Law &" Meets "Law As": The Handbook of Law and Society

Linda L. Berger, UNLV School of Law, is publishing 'Law &;' Meets 'Law As': The Handbook of Law and Society in volume 13 of Legal Communication &; Rhetoric: JALWD (2016). Here is the abstract.
How is a discipline built? More specifically, how does a scholarly movement based on the interdisciplinary study of law build and share knowledge and yet retain an identity of its own? In The Handbook of Law and Society, editors Austin Sarat and Patricia Ewick have collected twenty-eight essays to describe the elephant we know as the “Law and Society movement.” Published fifty years after the creation of the Law and Society Association (LSA) in 1964, the Handbook looks back, marks the “emerging maturity” of the movement, and forecasts its future. Unlike the elephant being described by blind observers who touch only its front or its back, the Law and Society movement is captured here by editors and authors familiar with its whole, present and past. As the Handbook describes it, the movement became a collective body whose work could be assessed through the conferences, workshops, and other activities of the LSA and the articles published in the Law &; Society Review. Initially, the movement brought together sociologists and law professors who described their purposes neutrally, as academic rather than political. The goal of the LSA, according to its first president, was to bring about “more rigorous and formal interdisciplinary training” in law and sociology. The purpose of the Review was to respond to “a growing need on the part of social scientists and lawyers for a forum in which to carry on an interdisciplinary dialogue.” Similar to the LSA, the Legal Writing Institute was established (in 1984) to foster teaching and scholarship in order to improve legal communication. Like the Review, the disciplinary journals in our field responded to the need to build and disseminate the discipline’s knowledge base. Hearing echoes in these origin stories, I read the Handbook with a specific purpose in mind: How might the evolution of these related and relatively new scholarly fields inform one another?
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

December 14, 2016

Music and the Law: A Survey From the the Law Library of Congress @LawLibCongress

From In Custodia Legis, the Law Library of Congress blog, results of a Law Library of Congress staff survey on favorite songs about law, conducted by Betty Lupinacci. Part one here, part two here.

Choices range from "Jailhouse Rock" to "Officer Krupke" from the hit musical "West Side Story" to arias from "The Marriage of Figaro." Something for everyone.

December 13, 2016

Wonder Woman Loses Powers As Honorary U.N. Ambassador For Female Empowerment

Wonder Woman has ended her stint as an honorary U.N. ambassador for female empowerment, just two months after she got the job. For some, the red, white, and blue-clad cartoon heroine was a poor substitute for the woman they wished had taken the position as head of the United Nations, a post that went to Antonio Guterres earlier this year. (Here's a link to the original UN press release about WW's appointment).

Ms. Woman, whose alter ego is Diana Prince, created by William Marston, isn't the first fictional character to hold a U.N. post. Others include Red from the Angry Birds, Tinker Bell, and my favorite, Winnie the Pooh.

December 8, 2016

Want More Westworld? @WestworldHBO

"Hell is empty, and all the devils are here." Well, there's a lot of Westworld coverage, and it seems to be just about everywhere (just like those hosts would like to be, apparently), so it's hard to keep track of, but The Hollywood Reporter has some here.

As for analysis, there's a lot of that, also, starting here:

Decrypted: Westworld Pulls Us Deeper Into Its Violent Mystery (ArsTechnica)

New York Magazine, What Westworld Is Teaching Me About Love

Time Magazine, Let's Talk About the 11 Most Interesting Westworld Fan Theories

What Westworld Can Teach Us About Surviving a Broken System

Canadian Journal of Women and the Law/Revue Femmes et Droit, Vol. 28, Issue 3 (Nov. 2016) Now Available

Now available through Project MUSE:

Canadian Journal of Women and the Law/Revue Femmes et Droit
Volume 28, Issue 3, November 2016

La régulation du genre dans la coexistence des niveaux de droit : regards croisés Europe-Canada / The Regulation of Gender in the Co-Existence of Levels of Law: Conversations between Europe and Canada

The Regulation of Gender in the Co-Existence of Levels of Law: Conversations between Europe and Canada
Louise Langevin, Anne-Marie Devreux, and Coline Cardi

La régulation du genre dans la coexistence des niveaux de droit : regards croisés Europe-Canada
Louise Langevin, Anne-Marie Devreux, and Coline Cardi

Couvrez ce genre que le droit ne saurait voir : la difficile circulation du concept féministe de genre dans la langue juridique
Louise Langevin

Au-delà du binaire : penser le genre, la loi et le droit des personnes transgenres en Belgique
Caroline Simon

La réglementation de l'assistance médicale à la procréation en Italie : le droit face à une nouvelle conception de la famille
Enrica Bracchi and Carolina Simoncini

Les femmes et le travail de soins aux enfants : quelle reconnaissance par les régimes étatiques d'indemnisation ?
Mathilde Valentini

« La protection du sexe fort » ? Quand la France est condamnée pour discrimination (1988–91)
Fanny Gallot

Dénonciation, régulation et réforme du droit de la famille par les groupes de pères séparés : ce que nous apprend la comparaison France-Québec
Aurélie Fillod-Chabaud

Le traitement institutionnel d'une minorité par la justice en Île-de-France : le cas des « jeunes filles roumaines »
Arthur Vuattoux

La bataille de l'avortement, chronique québécoise par Louise Desmarais
Louise Langevin

Sister Wives, Surrogates and Sex Workers: Outlaws by Choice? by Angela Campbell
Lisa Kerr

Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World by Linda Hirshman
Mary Jane Mossman

Implied Consent and Sexual Assault: Intimate Relationships, Autonomy, and Voice by Michael Plaxton
Lucinda Vandervort

"The Good Fight," New CBS Legal Drama, Premieres February 19th on CBS All-Access

The Good Fight, the spinoff of CBS's long-running legal and relationship drama The Good Wife, will premiere February 19th on CBS's All-Access service. The show stars Christine Baranski, who reprises her role as Diane Lockhart, and episodes will follow Ms. Lockhart's fortunes after she departs Lockhart, Lee for a new firm. Other actors signing on include Cush Jumbo, Sarah Steele, and Bernadette Peters.

More here from Variety. 

December 7, 2016

Crewe on Gangs and Culture

Don Crewe, Leeds Beckett University, School of Social Sciences, is publishing Gang: Culture. Eidos and Process in volume 6 of the Oñati Socio-Legal Series (2016). Here is the abstract (in both English and Spanish).
English Abstract: The terms ‘gang’ and ‘culture’ are used with varying degrees of (im)precision in different fields of academe, media, public, and policy; and this paper will contend that this circumstance provides a fertile ground for the reification of these two concepts. It will suggest that this phenomenon of reification has already taken hold in various parts of the study of gangs more recently, and in cultural criminology in a more established way. This paper will deconstruct the concepts ‘gang’ and ‘culture’ and attempt to reconstruct them in a way that opens up the discourse of ‘gangs’ and ‘culture’ such that better sense may be made of the phenomena that these terms are intended to evoke.

Spanish Abstract: Los terminos "banda" y "cultura" se usan con diferentes grados de (im)precisión en distintos ámbitos del mundo académico, medios de comunicación, público y política. En este artículo se defiende que esta circunstancia ofrece un campo fértil para la cosificación de estos dos conceptos. Se sugiere que este fenómeno de cosificación ya ha arraigado de diversa forma en los estudios de bandas recientes, y en la criminología cultural de forma más consolidada. Este artículo deconstruye los conceptos "banda" y "cultura" e intenta reconstruirlos de forma que se abra el discurso sobre "bandas" y "cultura" para tener una sensación mejor del fenómeno que estos términos intentan evocar.

Download the article from SSRN at the link. 

Lizzie Borden's Back...With a Vengeance

The Guardian takes a look at the enduring interest with Lizzie Borden and the events of August 4, 1892, as new popular culture entries, including a film, a novel, and a musical focus on the enigmatic Massachusetts woman who may have been the U.S.'s ultimate daddy's girl. More here.

December 6, 2016

Drumbl on The Kapo on film: Tragic Perpetrators and Imperfect Victims

Mark A. Drumbl, Washington and Lee University School of Law, has published The Kapo on Film: Tragic Perpetrators and Imperfect Victims as Washington & Lee Legal Studies Paper No. 2016-13. Here is the abstract.
The Nazis compelled, enlisted, and ‘promoted’ detainees into the administration of the labor and death camps. These detainees were called Kapos. The Kapos constitute a particularly contested, and at times tabooified, element of Holocaust remembrance. Some Kapos deployed their situational authority to ease the conditions of other prisoners, while others acted cruelly and committed abuses. This project explores treatment of the Kapo on film. This paper considers two films: Kapò (1959 dir. Pontecorvo (Italy)) and Kapo (2000 dir. Setton (Israel)), and additionally one stage play, Kapo in Jerusalem (2013 dir. Lerner (Israel)) which derives from a film of the same title (2014 dir. Barbash (Israel)). While these works do not explicitly consider international criminal law, they vivify themes of agency, blame, survival, shame, sacrifice, and recrimination with which law grapples. These two films vary in genre: a pulpy feature fiction film (Kapò (1959)) and a controversially-received documentary reportage (Kapo 2000); the stageplay (Kapo in Jerusalem), itself derivative of a film of the same title, is a fictional (and gripping) drama drawn from the experiences of an actual Auschwitz Kapo. This paper interrogates how these creative works portray victim-perpetrator circularity; how they contribute to history, memory, and recollection; and didactically how they explain ‘what happened,’ ‘why,’ and ‘what to do now’. This paper additionally contrasts cinematographic accounts and criminal law’s accounts, in particular, those in Israel’s Kapo trials. In the 1950’s, the Knesset passed legislation – the Nazi and Nazi Collaboration Punishment Act – to criminally charge suspected Jewish Kapos who had emigrated to the state of Israel following the Holocaust. Authorities conducted approximately forty prosecutions. The trials were awkward, the language of judgment gnarly, the absolutes of conviction or acquittal crudely reductionist, and the judges ‘trembled’ at having to sentence. This paper contends that cinematographic depictions of victim-victimizers can sooth the criminal law’s anxieties by filling spaces ill-served by the criminal law.

Download the article from SSRN at the link. 

Slocum on Pragmatics and Legal Texts: How Best To Account For the Gaps Between Literal Meaning and Communicative Meaning

Brian G. Slocum, McGeorge School of Law, is publishing Pragmatics and Legal Texts: How Best to Account for the Gaps between Literal Meaning and Communicative Meaning in The Pragmatic Turn in Law: Inference and Interpretation in Legal Discourse (de Gruyter Mouton, 2017) (Mouton Series of Pragmatics). Here is the abstract.
It is often assumed or asserted by courts and scholars that the literal meaning of a legal text is co-terminous with its communicative meaning, but such an understanding is mistaken. There is often a gap between the two. Accounting for that gap, though, raises difficult issues. The linguistic phenomena responsible for the gap between literal and communicative meaning can be identified as involving pragmatic processes (Recanati 2004). In evaluating these pragmatic processes, theories that offer accounts of specific linguistic phenomena offer conceptual advantages compared to more reductive theories that seek to identify deep underlying principles of communication applicable across various linguistic phenomena. In all cases, for a linguistic theory to be useful it must, as a general matter, be explanatory and persuasive and, importantly, offer some insight into the interpretation of legal texts. This paper argues that the legal meaning of a legal text is generally constrained by its communicative meaning, demonstrates the gap between literal meaning and communicative meaning, and finally argues in favor of theories that explain pragmatic processes in terms of specific systematic effects in language.
Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

Bracha on Owning Ideas: The Intellectual Origins of American Intellectual Property, 1790-1909 (from Cambridge University Press)

Oren Bracha, University of Texas, Austin, has published Owning Ideas: The Intellectual Origins of American Intellectual Property, 1790–1909 (Cambridge University Press, 2016) (Cambridge Historical Studies in American Law and Society). Here from the publisher's website is a description of the book's contents.
Owning Ideas is a comprehensive account of the emergence of the concept of intellectual property in the United States during the long nineteenth century. In the modern information era, intellectual property has become a central economic and cultural phenomenon and an important lever for allocating wealth and power. This book uncovers the intellectual origins of this modern concept of private property in ideas through a close study of its emergence within the two most important areas of this field: patent and copyright. By placing the development of legal concepts within their social context, this study reconstructs the radical transformation of the idea. Our modern notion of owning ideas, it argues, came into being when the ideals of eighteenth-century possessive individualism at the heart of early patent and copyright were subjected to the forces and ideology of late-nineteenth-century corporate liberalism.

Fills a gap in the literature by investigating the ideas of American patent and copyright in their formative period in history

The examination of both patent and copyright ideas allows for a comparative dimension to the discussion, exploring elements of divergence and convergence between these two major fields

Functions as a legal-intellectual history which is sensitive to social context

 Owning Ideas

Habermas on the Making of the German Legal System: A New Book from Cambridge University Press

Rebekka Habermas, Georg-Augst-Universitaet, Goettingen, has published Thieves in Court: The Making of the German Legal System in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge University Press, 2016) (Publications of the German Historical Institute). Here from the publisher's website is a description of the contents.
From the seemingly insignificant theft of some bread and a dozen apples in nineteenth century rural Germany, to the high courts and modern-day property laws, this English-language translation of Habermas' Diebe vor Gericht explores how everyday incidents of petty stealing and the ordinary people involved in these cases came to shape the current legal system. Habermas draws from an unusual cache of archival documents of theft cases, tracing the evolution and practice of the legal system of Germany through the nineteenth century. This close reading, relying on approaches of legal anthropology, challenges long-standing narratives of legal development, state building, and modern notions of the rule of law. Ideal for legal historians and scholars of modern German and nineteenth-century European history, this innovative volume steps outside the classic narratives of legal history and gives an insight into the interconnectedness of social, legal and criminal history.

Proposes a new understanding of legal systems providing readers an alternative to classic narratives of legal development, state building, and modern notions of the rule of law

Offers a transdisciplinary approach by combining legal, criminal, and media history, and history of knowledge

The focus on case-studies in nineteenth-century rural Germany gives an innovative insight into how ordinary people and events influence large scale legal structures

McMahon on Reasonableness and Fairness: A Historical Theory

Christopher McMahon, University of California, Santa Barbara, has published Reasonableness and Fairness: A Historical Theory (Cambridge University Press, 2016). Here from the publisher's website is a description of the book's contents.
We all know, or think we know, what it means to say that something is 'reasonable' or 'fair', but what exactly are these concepts and how have they evolved and changed over the course of history? In this book, Christopher McMahon explores reasonableness, fairness, and justice as central concepts of the morality of reciprocal concern. He argues that the basis of this morality evolves as history unfolds, so that forms of interaction that might have been morally acceptable in the past are judged unacceptable today. The first part of his study examines the notions of reasonableness and fairness as they are employed in ordinary practical thought, and the second part develops a constructivist theory to explain why and how this part of morality can undergo historical development without arriving at any final form. His book will interest scholars of ethics, political theory, and the history of ideas.

Relates moral reasoning to its historical context

Provides an account of reasonable disagreement, enabling readers to gain insight into the structure of moral, and especially political, disagreements

Develops a meta-ethical theory that bridges the divide between realist views and anti-realist views

 Reasonableness and Fairness

Olson on Reading, Consciousness, and Rationality: A New Book from Cambridge University Press

David R. Olson, University of Toronto, has published The Mind on Paper: Reading, Consciousness and Rationality (Cambridge University Press, 2016). Here is a description, from the publisher's website, of the book's contents.
Although the importance of literacy is widely acknowledged in society and remains at the top of the political agenda, writing has been slow to establish a place in the cognitive sciences. Olson argues that to understand the cognitive implications of literacy, it is necessary to see reading and writing as providing access to and consciousness of aspects of language, such as phonemes, words and sentences, that are implicit and unconscious in speech. Reading and writing create a system of metarepresentational concepts that bring those features of language into consciousness as a subject of discourse. This consciousness of language is essential not only to acquiring literacy but also to the formation of systematic thought and rationality. The Mind on Paper is a compelling exploration of what literacy does for our speech and hence for our thought, and will be of interest to readers in developmental psychology, cognitive science, linguistics, and education.

Presents a general theory of how reading and writing invite a new and distinctive consciousness of language

Finds a significant place for writing in the cognitive and educational sciences

Shows that the 'reading wars' can be resolved by a better understanding of the role of metarepresentational knowledge in reading and learning to read

The Mind on Paper