Saturday, April 5, 2008

Hurst fellowship changes focus

The J. Willard Hurst Fellowship in Legal History at the University of Wisconsin will, sadly, no longer be a legal history fellowship. From 2009 on it will be the Law & Society Post-doctoral Fellowship (no longer named for Hurst, and no longer focused on history, though legal historians can apply). The Hurst Summer Institute in Legal History remains in place, with an Institute directed by Barbara Welke, Minnesota, planned for 2009.

Wisconsin has been a traditional leader in American legal history. It's not just that Wisconsin was home to J. Willard Hurst, but other leaders in the field (Lawrence Friedman, Robert Gordon, Hendrick Hartog, and Richard Ross) spent important parts of their careers teaching at Wisconsin. I'm told that Wisconsin is not withdrawing from the field, but legal historians will be looking to Wisconsin, hoping for a reinvigoration rather than a retreat.

This leaves Harvard and NYU as the two schools with legal history fellowships. The field is so strong right now that it would be a good time for another school with strong legal historians and good ties between its law school and history department to create a new center for junior scholars.

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