Monday, September 15, 2014

CFP: Marriage’s Global Past

[We have the following CFP.]

This special issue of Gender & History explores marriage's global past from the medieval to the modern era. We solicit contributions that examine aspects of the history of marriage in societies and cultures throughout the world, with special attention to ideas and practices of monogamy and polygamy. Of particular interest is the role of gender in the construction and reconstruction of marriage. We also solicit papers that interrogate the relationship of marriage to various forms of power, including those of state, religious, and colonial institutions as well as the complicated dynamics of authority within households. We welcome both broad, comparative studies and more narrowly-focused ones.

Many imagine marriage as a timeless institution. In fact, as William Alexander wrote in 1779, in his History of Women, From the Earliest Antiquity, to the Present Time, “Marriage is so far from having been an institution, fixed by permanent and unalterable laws, that it has been continually varying in every period, and in every country.” This historian thus acknowledged both the shifting nature of marriage as an institution in a global context, as well as the ways that marriage profoundly shapes, and is shaped by, the role and status of women and men. This special issue similarly assumes varieties of marriages, in terms of both chronology and geography.

This special issue will also interrogate the profound interconnection of gender and marriage, especially with reference to issues of rank, race, age, nationality, culture, religion, and sexuality. Indeed, what might constitute “traditional” marriage in one context might appear radical in another. Indeed, while many contemporary scholars and advocates have called for a redefinition of what is termed “traditional marriage,” recent scholarship has also emphasized how very little is traditional about what is currently described in the Oxford English Dictionary as: “the formal union of a man and a woman, typically as recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife.”

One of the goals of this special issue is to explore how the idea of so-called “traditional marriage” took root and spread in many cultures. Often, of course, it did so even as local social practices deviated, sometimes notably, from this norm. Christian teachings beginning in the first millennium endorsed a particular model of marriage that became not only a centerpiece of Christian faith but also a potent political and social force across the world. In this model, marriage had to be exclusive and indissoluble, a monogamous and enduring commitment between one man and one woman. At that time and in subsequent centuries, as Christian teachings spread throughout the world, this model of marriage came into contact with cultures that had a variety of different ideas about the best ways to marry, and the purpose of marriage. Clashes between different practices of marriage lay at the heart of many early modern and modern encounters.  This special issue of Gender & History hopes to offer new interpretations of this complex and fascinating history.

The volume will begin with a colloquium to be held 18-20 March 2016 at Cambridge University. Paper proposals (750 words maximum) are to be submitted by 15 January 2015. Invitations to present at the colloquium will be issued in February 2015. All those presenting must submit articles for pre-circulation by 15 January 2016. Participants will also be expected to read all the other articles and to participate fully in the two-day colloquium. This participation will include commenting on the paper of another participant, as well as more general discussions.  After the colloquium, participants will be invited to submit their revised papers for publication. Those accepted by the editors for publication will be expected to submit their manuscripts by 1 September 2016. This timeframe will allow the editors to work with authors to produce the final text of the issue for publication in 2017.

Please send paper proposals to by 15 January 2015, with "Marriage’s Global Past” in the subject heading.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Amar to Lecture on "Magna Carta and the American Constitution"

[From the Library of Congress's press release.]

Constitutional law scholar Akhil Reed Amar will discuss Magna Carta and its historical connection to the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 16 at the Library of Congress

The lecture, titled "Magna Carta and the American Constitution," will serve as the annual Constitution Day lecture presented by the Law Library of Congress. Amar will speak at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 16, in the Montpelier Room on the sixth floor of the James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C.

Sponsored in part by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress, the event is free and open to the public. Tickets are not needed. . . . Amar’s lecture also is part of the Magna Carta lecture series held in conjunction with the Library’s upcoming exhibition "Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor," which opens Nov. 6, 2014, and runs through Jan. 19, 2015.

Amar will base his lecture on his two most recent books, "America's Constitution: A Biography" (2005) and "America's Unwritten Constitution" (2012), and will offer an overview of the grand project of American constitutionalism, past, present and future. Amar will highlight the ways in which the American constitutional experience has both drawn upon and broken with English constitutional precursors such as Magna Carta and the English Bill of Rights of 1689. [More.]

Sunday Book Roundup

It is a shorter list of book reviews this weekend. Justin Driver reviews Scalia: A Court of One by Bruce Allen Murphy (Simon & Schuster) for the New Republic.
"Instead of his influence being confined to a discrete set of writings or narrow doctrinal categories, Scalia has shaped modern American law in ways more overarching and even elemental. Elena Kagan, when she was dean of Harvard Law School, expressed this point vividly while presiding over Scalia’s return to his alma mater in 2007. “His views on textualism and originalism, his views on the role of judges in our society, on the 
practice of judging, have really transformed the terms of legal debate in this country,” Kagan said. “[Scalia] is the justice who has had the most important impact over the years on how we think and talk about the law.” This statement can be understood to identify Scalia’s influence as occurring within at least three distinct arenas, each requiring some elaboration."
Last weekend we noted a few reviews of Edward Baptist's The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism  (Basic Books). This week Baptist was interviewed on New Books in History. Baptist has also shared an excerpt of the book in Salon.

Over on New Books in Law, Jeremy Lipschultz is interviewed about his book, Social Media Communication: Concepts, Practices, Data, Law, and Ethics (Routledge).

H-Net adds a review of Phillip Deery's Red Apple: Communism and McCarthyism in Cold War New York (Fordham University Press).
"Deery concludes with a discussion of the career of New York lawyer O. John Rogge in chapter 5. Considered by historians to be “one of the country’s most prominent radical lawyers,” Rogge is perhaps best known for his role in the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg conspiracy to commit espionage case, as legal counsel to David Greenglass (p. 135). Rogge also provided counsel for the defense in the Smith Act case of 1949, and defended the JAFRC. He left the Democratic Party in 1947, shifting to the progressive American Labor Party (ALP) and running on the ALP judicial slate in 1948, but he never joined the CPUSA. Considered a left-wing, radical, fellow traveler, he publicly repudiated communism in 1951 and took on the case of Greenglass."
If you haven't had your fill of reviews for Henry Kissinger's World Order (Penguin Press), you can read two in The New York Times this weekend: one by Michiko Kakutani titled "Long View of History Includes Today", and a second by John Micklethwait titled "As the World Turns."

Also in The New York Times this weekend is a review of Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David (Knopf) by Lawrence Wright.
"Wright reminds us that Carter’s Camp David was an act of surpassing political courage. At a time of double-digit inflation, sluggish economic growth, soaring gas prices and a real-time revolution in Iran, he dropped everything for two weeks and took a long shot at creating peace. He won his treaty, but lost his presidency because most Americans blamed him for not doing more to address the things they really cared about."
The Nation reviews two books in the piece, "Language and Blood: In 1941, genocide broke out in Croatia, and we still cannot explain way," including 1941: The Year That Keeps Returning by Slavko Goldstein (NYRB) and The Racial Idea in the Independent State of Croatia: Origins and Theory by Nevenko Bartulin (Brill).

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Weekend Roundup

  • American Constitutionalism: Powers, Rights, and Liberties, by Howard Gillman, Mark A. Graber, and Keith E. Whittington, is now out as a single-volume edition for Oxford University Press.  
  •  A symposium on the history of law and corporate responsibility is available ungated on the website of the University of St. Thomas Law Journal.  It includes The Antimonopoly Tradition by Kenneth Lipartito.
  • Vermonters love their legal history.  Another review of Paul S. Gillies’s Uncommon Law, Ancient Roads, and Other Ruminations on Vermont Legal History is here.
  • The topic for the 2015 David A. Garfinkel Essay Scholarship, sponsored by the Historical Society of the New York Courts, is LGBT: The Road to Equality.
  • Hart Publishing is offering LHB readers a 20% discount on Re-Interpreting Blackstone's Commentaries, edited by Wilfrid Prest. To receive the discount: "write ref: AY3 in the special instructions field. The discount will not appear on your order confirmation but it will be applied when your order is processed."
Weekend Roundup is a weekly feature compiled by all the Legal History bloggers. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Law in Postcards: An Exhibit at BC Law

[We have the following announcement.]

Boston College Law Library has a new exhibit on display in the Daniel R. Coquillette Rare Book Room for the fall semester. It features a collection of law-related postcards and trade cards that were given to the law library by Michael H. Hoeflich, John H. & John M. Kane Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Kansas School of Law. Previously, Professor Hoeflich donated two generous gifts of antiquarian and modern Roman law books to the library.

The cards featured in the exhibit were the basis of Professor Hoeflich's book, The Law in Postcards and Legal Ephemera 1890-1962 (The Lawbook Exchange, 2012). It's a fun and colorful exhibit, and interested parties are invited to visit in person! [A “sneak preview” is here.]

Laeuchi's "Bibliographical Catalog of William Blackstone"

Ann Jordan Laeuchli has published Bibliographical Catalog of William Blackstone, with a foreword by Morris L. Cohen.  The bibliography, edited by James E. Mooney, is out from William S. Hein.
In 1938, Yale University Press published for the Yale Law Library Catherine Spicer Eller’s catalog of its William Blackstone Collection. This new catalog, built on Eller’s work, covers not only the Yale additions to the original Blackstone publication but also includes works by and about Blackstone printed in the roman alphabet held by other libraries, American and foreign. The number of entries here are more than twice the number of those in Eller and have a much more expanded entry format: complete title transcription with line endings; modern collation indicating size, signatures, leaves, and pagination; contents; notes; copy seen; and citation to bibliographic and electronic resources. In addition to Eller’s arrangement of the collection into nine categories (English, American, and other editions of Blackstone; abridgments and extracts; the Comic Blackstone; works founded on the Commentaries; biography and criticism; and other works by Blackstone), there are two brief new additions, one on catalogs, commemorations, exhibitions, and prospectuses and one on microtexts and electronic resources. There are also three appendixes (a full description of entry no. 1, the first edition; an excerpt from Eller’s Introduction; and a correlation of Eller and Laeuchli numbers) and three indexes (to authors, editors and translators; to places, publishers and booksellers; and to dedications).
Download the brochure!

New Release: Arnold, "Secrecy in the Sunshine Era: The Promise and Failure of U.S. Open Government Laws"

New from the University Press of Kansas: Secrecy in the Sunshine Era: The Promise and Failure of U.S. Open Government Laws (August 2014), by Jason Ross Arnold (Virginia Commonwealth University). The Press explains:
A series of laws passed in the 1970s promised the nation unprecedented transparency in government, a veritable “sunshine era.” Though citizens enjoyed a new arsenal of secrecy-busting tools, officials developed a handy set of workarounds, from overclassification to concealment, shredding, and burning. It is this dark side of the sunshine era that Jason Ross Arnold explores in the first comprehensive, comparative history of presidential resistance to the new legal regime, from Reagan-Bush to the first term of Obama-Biden.

After examining what makes a necessary and unnecessary secret, Arnold considers the causes of excessive secrecy, and why we observe variation across administrations. While some administrations deserve the scorn of critics for exceptional secrecy, the book shows excessive secrecy was a persistent problem well before 9/11, during Democratic and Republican administrations alike. Regardless of party, administrations have consistently worked to weaken the system’s legal foundations.
The book reveals episode after episode of evasive maneuvers, rule bending, clever rhetorical gambits, and downright defiance; an army of secrecy workers in a dizzying array of institutions labels all manner of documents “top secret,” while other government workers and agencies manage to suppress information with a “sensitive but unclassified” designation. For example, the health effects of Agent Orange and antibiotic-resistant bacteria leaking out of Midwestern hog farms are considered too “sensitive” for public consumption. These examples and many more document how vast the secrecy system has grown during the sunshine era.
Rife with stories of vital scientific evidence withheld, justice eluded, legalities circumvented, and the public interest flouted, Secrecy in the Sunshine Era reveals how our information society has been kept in the dark in too many ways and for too long.
More information is available here.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Lowe on Beard's Ideas That Matter

The SSRN papers from that symposium on Beard’s Economic Interpretation of the Constitution keep on coming.  The latest is Ideas that Matter: Parting Thoughts on Charles Beard on the 100th Anniversary of an Economic Interpretation, by Jessica Lowe, University of Virginia School of Law.  Here is the abstract:
Charles Beard's work is best known for advocating that material interests, not ideas, played the pivotal role in shaping the founding of the United States. But Beard was, in his own way, an idealist who saw history as a moral force. This brief essay, the conclusion to the publication of the October 2013 Miller Center/University of Virginia Law School symposium on the 100th Anniversary of Beard's An Economic Interpretation, sums up the conference and argues that Beard's real legacy is as a historian who believed in the power of ideas to create social change -- and in history as the pursuit of truth.

Legal History at AALS: Gender, Sexuality, and Equality

[James W. Fox, Jr., Stetson University College of Law, chairman of the Association of American Law School’s Section on Legal History, announces two sessions at this year’s annual meeting of the AALS.  Both take place on Saturday, January 3, 2015.]

Co-Sponsored Program, Liberty-Equality:  Gender, Sexuality, and Reproduction—Griswold v. Connecticut Then and Now, 8:30 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

Presented by the Section on Constitutional Law and co-sponsored by the Sections on Women in Legal Education and Legal History,  this program marks the 50th anniversary of Griswold v. Connecticut, the ground-breaking Supreme Court decision recognizing a right to privacy that protected individuals in making decisions about the use of contraceptives from the reach of state criminal law, but spoke implicitly to the constitutional underpinnings of an individual’s rights or interests in intimacy, marriage, procreation, sexuality, and sexual conduct.  Panelists will place the case in historical context, and explore the development of the Griswold doctrine, as well as its implications for current constitutional controversies over access to reproductive health care, marriage, sexuality and sexual conduct.

Cary C. Franklin, The University of Texas School of Law
Melissa E. Murray, University of California, Berkeley School of Law
Doug NeJaime, University of California, Irvine School of Law
Neil S. Siegel, Duke University School of Law
Co-Moderator: M. Isabel Medina, Loyola University New Orleans College of Law
Co-Moderator Speaker: Reva B. Siegel, Yale Law School

Joint Program:  Engendering Equality:  A Conversation with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the United States, and New Voices in Legal History, 1:30 – 3:15 p.m.

This Section on Legal History and Women in Legal Education Joint Program, co-sponsored by the Section on Constitutional Law, explores the history of women’s equality and the legacy of Justice Ginsburg.  The first portion of the program will, through a conversation between Justice Ginsburg and Wendy Williams, consider the ideas and strategies shaping Justice Ginsburg’s efforts as an advocate, an academic, and a Justice to achieve equal citizenship for women.   The second portion of the program will present a panel of new voices in Women’s Legal History who study the complex and often contradictory ways in which social, political, and legal actors have appealed to gender and equality in movements of the past, and suggest how such studies might engender/inform equality’s future.

The Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court of the United States
Wendy W. Williams, Georgetown University Law Center
 Co-Moderator: Reva B. Siegel, Yale Law School

Deborah Dinner, Washington University in St. Louis School of Law
Lynda Dodd,  City College of New York, Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership
Mary Ziegler, Florida State University College of Law
Co-Moderator: Tracy A. Thomas, University of Akron, C. Blake McDowell Law Center

Boston College Law School Legal History Roundtable

In the fall of 2014, the Boston College Law School Legal History Roundtable started its 13th successful year. The Roundtable draws on Boston College Law School's and Boston College's strength and interest in legal history. The Roundtable offers an opportunity for Boston College faculty and faculty from other area institutions, students, and members of the Boston College community to meet and discuss a pre-circulated paper in legal history. Meeting several times each semester, the Roundtable seeks to promote an informal, collegial atmosphere of informed discussion.

For the 2014-2015 academic year, Professor Mary Sarah Bilder, Professor Daniel R. Coquillette, Professor Frank Herrmann and Professor James S. Rogers are conveners.

With the exception of the Constitution Day lecture (see below), the Roundtable meets in the afternoon at 4:30 in the Library Conference Room of the Boston College Law School Library. Refreshments are available beginning at 4:15 pm.

Papers will be available on the website shortly before each presentation. For more information, please contact Judy Yi by calling the administrative assistants' office at (617) 552-4125 or emailing

Wednesday, September 17, 2014: John Fabian Witt, Allen H. Duffy Class of 1960 Professor of Law, Yale Law School
 "Two Humanitarianisms" (3:30, Room 120, public lecture), co-sponsored with BC Law School Legal History Roundtable and the BC Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy

Wednesday, October 22, 2014: Daniel J. Sharfstein, Professor of Law, Co-director, Social Justice Program, Vanderbilt Law School
"The Administrative State in the Wilderness: Chief Joseph's Advocacy for Nez Perce Tribal Land, 1872-1875"

Tuesday Nov 11, 2014: Stewart Jay, Pendleton Miller Endowed Chair of Law, University of Washington School of Law
"Original Error: The Lasting Consequences of Early Judicial Misinterpretations of the Privileges and Immunities Clause"


Thursday January 22, 2015: Elizabeth Papp Kamali
"Mens Rea and the Meaning of Felony in Medieval England"

Wednesday March 25, 2015: Tomiko Brown-Nagin, Daniel P.S. Paul Professor of Constitutional Law, Harvard Law School; Professor of History, Harvard Graduate School of Arts & Sciences; Co-Director, Program in Law and History
"Constance Baker Motley: Race and Gender at Work"

Call for Applications: 2015 Yale Law Library Rare Book Fellowship

Via the Yale Law Library Rare Books Blog we have the following announcement:
Applications are now being accepted for the 2015 Yale Law Library Rare  Book Fellowship. Here are the details.
FIXED DURATION POSITION: 6 months from date of hire; non-renewable
EXPECTED START DATE: Jan/Feb 2015 (flexible start date)
POSITION FOCUS: The Lillian Goldman Law Library has established this fellowship to train the next generation of rare book librarians to serve the growing number of special collections departments in academic law libraries. The Rare Book Fellow will be trained in special collections librarianship including acquisitions, collection development, cataloging, reference services, exhibit preparation & design, bibliographic instruction, preservation, and digital projects. The Fellow will be charged with completing a major project involving our Kuttner Institute Library materials, focusing on medieval canon law. The Kuttner Institute Library has been placed on deposit at the Yale Law Library by the Stephan Kuttner Institute of Medieval Canon Law.
RESPONSIBILITIES: Under the direction of the Rare Book Librarian, the Rare Book Fellow will spend time learning special collections librarianship with an emphasis on law material. The Fellow will: follow a curriculum designed by the Rare Book Librarian that includes a general orientation to Yale University, librarianship, and rare law book librarianship; gain experience in collection development and management, preservation, reference and outreach, exhibition planning, and cataloging rare books; contribute to ongoing digital initiatives; develop and complete a special project pertaining to the Kuttner Institute Library materials in consultation with the Rare Book Librarian; participate in professional activities, Law Library committees, policy discussions, and other library-wide activities. The Fellow will be fully integrated into the Law Library’s professional staff. More information about the Fellowship can be found here:
QUALIFICATIONS: The Rare Book Fellowship will be open to those who have (or will have by Jan. 2015) a Master’s degree from an ALA-accredited program for library and information science (or foreign equivalent), and who are in the initial stages of a career as a librarian. Candidates must have excellent written and oral communication skills, and must be able to work in a complex and changing environment with diverse staff and users. It is imperative that candidates have reading knowledge of Latin and a demonstrated interest in rare books. (Please note this is not an archivist position).
Preference will be given to candidates with knowledge of and/or experience working with canon law, legal history, and/or medieval history; preference will also be given to candidates with skills in the foreign languages most heavily represented in Yale Law Library special collections (Italian, German, French, Spanish, Dutch).
For more information about the salary and application process, follow the link.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Special Issue: The ERA in the 21st Century

[H-Law has circulated a call for papers that we want to note as well.  It is for a special issue of Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies, to be entitled "The ERA in the 21st Century."  The Guest Editor is Laura Mattoon D’Amore.  The due date for receipt of papers is October 1, 2014.]

The failure of the Equal Rights Amendment links generations of feminists across nearly a century of activism.  In 1923, Alice Paul introduced the Equal Rights Amendment to Congress for the first time, demanding equality of rights under the law, regardless of sex. The amendment was introduced unsuccessfully to every Congress since 1923. Though it became a central rallying point for Second Wave feminism, passing both houses of Congress in 1972, it ultimately failed to receive enough state ratifications before its deadline in 1982. Despite its repeated failure the ERA has served as a symbolic torch carried by generations of feminists fighting for women’s rights.

The ERA serves as a conduit for critical dialogues about equal rights, because while the cultural, legal, political, and intellectual heritage of the United States is rooted in the “self-evident” precept of equality, it has prevented the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment for 90 years.  Furthermore, the topic of the ERA sometimes alienates supporters of equal rights who criticize its complicity in marginalizing race, class, gender, and sexuality through its heteronormative focus on women’s rights. The subject of the ERA has also caused some intergenerational conflict. Some activist feminists who have been working on the ERA for decades—who were in the trenches when it failed in 1982—believe that they have a more true idea of the significance of the loss.  Other activist feminists see the amendment as less relevant today than ever before, and are ready to rally efforts in other spaces.  Academics are highly critical of the political, economic, and legal shortcomings of the past, of the failure to unite in the present, and of the ways that the rhetoric of women’s equality that is so tightly intertwined with the ERA is, in turn, marginalizing others (particularly in terms of its lack of connection to intersections of race, class, gender identity, and sexuality).

This Special Issue about The ERA in the 21st Century seeks to bring together an interdisciplinary array of scholars from such academic disciplines as women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, American studies, history, law, literature, and political science with practitioners from the legal and political professions and activists from grassroots organizations to discuss the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  Proposals may explore past, present, and future implications of the fact that the ERA is still not in the Constitution, 90 years after it was first proposed in 1923, and consider how the ERA’s legacy in the 20th century positions the amendment in the popular, social, political, and legal consciousness of the 21st century. Using the ERA as a frame for dialogues across academic, legal, political, and public spheres, this call for papers especially encourages perspectives that engage with theories of, and/or experiences with intersectionality.

Some questions for consideration might include: How has the ERA served to bond feminists in a common struggle? Divide them? Why should the United States add an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution?  Is it needed to achieve equal rights without regard to sex?  Would it have any demonstrable negative cultural/legal impact?    What does the failure thus far to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment indicate about the relative cultural/political status and valuation of females in the U.S. since 1923? How have cultural and/or political relationships evolved since 1923 regarding the Equal Rights Amendment and feminism?  Men, both as individuals and as a class?  ERA supporters and opponents, past and present? How has the Equal Rights Amendment been related legally and politically to reproductive rights?  LGBTQ issues?  Trans issues? Racial equality? Economic policies?  Employment rights?  Traditional gender roles and conservative “family values”? What comparisons and contrasts can be drawn between the social and political movement for the Equal Rights Amendment and the movement for racial justice/civil rights?  For reproductive rights?  For LGBTQ rights?  What do these movements have to learn from each other?   In what ways do people continue to engage with the Equal Rights Amendment in academia?  Legal and political practice?  Grassroots advocacy?  What models exist or can be formulated for bridging these categories of engagement?

An inter- and multidisciplinary journal, Frontiers welcomes submissions of scholarly papers, activist essays as well as creative works such as artwork, fiction, and poetry.  Works must be original and not published or under consideration for publication elsewhere.  All special issue submissions and questions should be directed to  For submission guidelines, please consult the Ohio State University Frontiers website.

Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies

Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
The Ohio State University
286 University Hall
230 North Oval Mall
Columbus, OH 43210-1367

Osgoode Society Legal History Group: Fall 2014 Schedule - updated

Via the Canadian Legal History Blog, we have an updated schedule for the this fall's meetings of the Osgoode Society Legal History Group:

*UPDATED again, as of September 11, 2014*
Wednesday September 10 - Ian Kyer, "Equity and the Private Sector Service Provider: The Battle between the City of Toronto and the Toronto Railway Company in the Privy Council"
Wednesday September 24 -  Blaine Baker, University of Toronto, “Testamentary Archeology in Late-Victorian Ontario: William Martin’s Little, Posthumous Legal System"
Wednesday October 1 –*new* Paul Craven, York University, "Imagining a low law history of labour arbitration in Ontario"
Wednesday October 15 - Sam McLean, King's College, London: "Courts-Martial and the Creation of the Early-Modern Royal Navy"
Wednesday October 29 - Joseph Dunlop, University of Toronto: "The Catholic Legislator in a Pluralistic Society: From Pierre Trudeau to Paul Martin."
November 5 - Reading Week
Wednesday November 12 - Philip Girard, Osgoode Hall Law School: "A History of Law in Canada, 1701-1815"
Wednesday November 26 – Art Linton, Magna Carta Canada, TBA
***Wednesday December 3 – Dennis Molinaro, University of Toronto, "Liberal Communists and Communist Liberals: Section 98 and Civil Rights in Canada." ** Note new date

The Supreme Court Fellows Program

[Via the Faculty Lounge, we have the following:]

The U.S. Supreme Court Fellows program is now accepting applications for the 2015-2016 term.  The fellowship, which is open to both junior and mid-career candidates, might be of interest to both current and aspiring academics as well as graduating and recently graduated law students.  Four fellowships are awarded each year, and each fellowship is unique in its scope and focus.  Interested persons can read more about the program [here].  The application process is described [here]. Applications are due by November 14, 2014.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tomlins on the "Fierce and Critical Faith" of Penelope Pether

Christopher Tomlins, University of California, Berkeley's Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program, has posted Fierce and Critical Faith: A Remembrance of Penny Pether, which is forthcoming in the Villanova Law Review 60 (2015).  Here is the abstract:    
Penelope Pether (credit)
This essay has been written for a Symposium organized in remembrance of Penelope (Penny) Pether, Professor of Law at Villanova University School of Law, and a leading scholar in the field of law and literature. I take as my point of departure Penny’s essay “The Prose and the Passion,” which appeared in the Australian literary journal Meanjin (2007), and which offers an entry to the world of Penny Pether as commentator – at first on the (scholarly) work of others, but also and increasingly for “others,” for those of us fated to be the targets of cruel and uncaring state power. What emerges for me from these two forms of commentary is a fierce refusal to yield law to the state. Whether founded on the quotidian routines of legal practice, the fragile structures of constitutionalism, or the world of possibilities immanent in the common law, Penny’s commentaries speak of a deep critical faith that law can be what, on occasion, and falteringly, it has been: a shield for the weak and defenseless and deprived, one for which it is worth fighting against those who would make law simply an instrumentality of established power. There is indignant passion in Penny’s prose, and along with it a demand that we put aside our weary cynicism and see the law she wants us to see.

Kamali on Felony in Medieval England

Elizabeth Papp Kamali, an ABD at the University of Michigan (and Preyer Award winner), has posted Felonia Felonice Facta: Felony and Intentionality in Medieval England, which is forthcoming in Criminal Law and Philosophy:
This paper explores the meaning of the word “felony” in thirteenth and fourteenth century England, i.e., during the first two centuries of the English criminal trial jury. To compile a working definition of felony, the paper presents examples of the language of felony drawn from literary and religious sources, in addition to considering the word’s more formulaic appearance in legal records. The paper then analyzes cases ending in acquittal or pardon, highlighting the factors that might take a criminal case out of the realm of felony. It suggests that the very definition of felony and felonious behavior — and thus the essence of criminal responsibility — may be bound up with the idea of mens rea during this period. The paper aims to uncover broader societal understandings of the nature of guilt and innocence, and to highlight connections and disconnections between the formal criminal law of felony, with its heavy emphasis on capital punishment, and popular and ecclesiastical understandings of culpability.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Lay Participation in Modern Law: A Comparative History Conference

We have word of the conference Lay Participation in Modern Law: A Comparative Historical Analysis, to be held at the University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law, Porthania, Yliopistonkatu 3, on September 17-19, 2014.  The organizers are Professors Heikki Pihlajamäki (Helsinki), Georges Martyn (Ghent), Anthony Musson (Exeter), and Markus Dubber (Toronto).  It is funded by the Academy of Finland, Federation of Finnish Learned Societies, Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (Flanders).

Thursday, 18 August

Session 1: The Roots of Modern Lay Participation, 10.00-12.00
David Mirhady (Simon Fraser University): Knowing the Law and Deciding Justice:  Lay Expertise in the Democratic Athenian Courts
Anthony Musson (University of Exeter): The Legacy of Magna Carta: the Enigma of the Jury

Session 2: The Jury in the French Tradition and In Common Law, 13.30 - 15.30
Georges Martyn (Ghent University): Belgian's Obsession with Democratic Control by Jury in High Crime Procedures
Pedro Barbas Homem (University of Lisbon): The Jury and the Portuguese Legal Tradition
Simon Stern (University of Toronto): Oratory and the Jury Trial in Nineteenth-Century America

Session 3: The Jury in Common Law and the Peripheries, 16:00 - 18:00
Niamh Howlin (University College Dublin): The Politics of Jury Trials in Nineteenth-Century Ireland
Kalyani Ramnath (Princeton University):  Mrs. Seneviratne's Suicide: Lawyers, Experts and Jurors in Colonial Ceylon
Mia Korpiola (University of Turku): Back to the Glory Days of the Past: Reforming the Finnish Jury ca. 1850-1910

Friday, 19 August

Session 4: The Waning Jury? 10:00 - 12:00
Kate Harrington (University of Exeter): The University as Judge and Jury: Lay Participation in Academic Inquisitions
Markus Dirk Dubber (University of Toronto): A Tale of Two Juries
Heikki Pihlajamäki (University of Helsinki): The Three Models of the Western Lay Judge: From Diversity to Common Extinction

Session 5: Concluding Discussion, 13:30 - 15:00

White on Understanding Supreme Court Decisionmaking Historically

G. Edward White, University of Virginia School of Law, has posted Toward a Historical Understanding of Supreme Court Decision-Making, Denver University Law Review Online 91 (2014).  Here is the abstract:
An abiding challenge to historians of the Supreme Court of the United States is fashioning a methodology that adequately captures the significant changes in the Court’s decision making process over time without losing sight of the special role the Court and its justices play in American government and culture. Too often historical studies of the Court have suffered from anachronistic perspectives on the actions of justices or a failure to understand the Court’s distinctive deliberative protocols. This essay proposes a methodological approach designed to deal with, if not to completely surmount, those challenges.

The methodology is designed to simultaneously consider justices as historical actors, reflecting the distinctive attitudes and values of their times; as collegial decision makers, assuming roles and engaging in deliberations that flow from their being participants in an institution that makes its decisions collectively and requires a majority of its members to endorse its judgments; and as individual personalities, bringing with them to the bench their distinctive and idiosyncratic ways of conceptualizing and resolving legal and political controversies. By identifying these different ways of thinking about the performance of justices, and at the same emphasizing that judicial decision making, at any point in the Court’s history, is a blend of different variables, the approach seeks to avoid anachronism, excessive reliance on the formal justifications for decisions, and uninformed speculation about how the Court’s internal decision making process functions.

The essay concludes that although the proposed methodology may avoid some of the obvious pitfalls in approaching the Court’s decision making over time, the challenges of anachronism and bias remain endemic in any effort to recover accurate renditions of the Court and its justices.
Hat tip: Legal Theory Blog

New Release: Holtz, "Neo-Babylonian Trial Records"

The Society of Biblical Literature has just published a new collection of Neo-Babylonian Trial Records, compiled and contextualized by Shalom E. Holtz (Yeshiva University). The Society explains:
This collection of sixth-century B.C.E. Mesopotamian texts provides a close-up, often dramatic, view of ancient courtroom encounters shedding light on Neo-Babylonian legal culture and daily life. In addition to the legal texts, Holtz provides an introduction to Neo-Babylonian social history, archival records, and legal materials. This is an essential resource for scholars interested in the history of law.
Excerpts from the book's introductory material are available here.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sunday Book Roundup

There is no shortage of book reviews this weekend. The new issue of Common Place is out with a review of Matthew Taylow Raffety's The Republic Afloat: Law, Honor, and Citizenship in Maritime America (University of Chicago Press).
"In The Republic Afloat, Matthew Raffety uses violent encounters on merchant vessels in the years between the American Revolution and the Civil War to suggest that it was on the water, not on land, that Americans settled key dimensions of federal governance and citizenship."
HNN has a review of Antiwar Dissent and Peace Action in World War I America (University Press of Nebraska) edited by Scott H. Bennett and Charles F. Howlett.

The Los Angeles Times reviews Edward E. Baptist's The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism (Dede Hatch/Basic Books). (If you want to read The Economist's apology for its now withdrawn review of the book, look here, and read on about the controversy here.)
"Plantations ("slave labor camps," he calls them) were run with the ruthless efficiency of your average sweatshop. This ambitious new economic and social history of antebellum America suggests that the bondage of African Americans is just another chapter in the rise of the global economy."
Dorothy Sue Cobble, Linda Gordon, and Astrid Henry's new book Feminism Unfinished: A Short, Surprising History of American Women's Movements (Liveright) is published in an excerpt titled, "From riot grrrls to “Girls”: Tina Fey, Kathleen Hanna, Lena Dunham and the birth of an inspiring new feminism" in Salon.

H-Net's review of a new volume Law and the Utopian Imagination edited by Austin Sarat, Lawrence Douglas and Martha Merrill Umphrey (Stanford University Press) asks "Law v. Utopia: Are They Mutually Exclusive?"
"This book of six essays on law and the utopian imagination is written by scholars from a wide array of disciplines, including English literature, fine arts, art history and cultural studies, political science, and legal philosophy and jurisprudence. The result is wide ranging and highly stimulating. Although the topics seem almost at odds with one other, the authors each pursue a unique tangent and tap into their particular areas of expertise to tease out exceptionally interesting logical constructions and conclusions as to the meaning and relationship of imagined utopias and legal strictures."
The New York Times reviews Fractured Times: Culture and Society in the Twentieth Century (The New Press), "a posthumously published collection of essays on “culture and society in the 20th century” by the British historian Eric Hobsbawm."

Karen Abbot's new work, Liar Temptress Soldier Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War (Harper) is reviewed in both the Washington Post (here), and in the Los Angeles Times (here). Jonathan Yardley for the Post writes,
"The role of women on both sides of the Civil War has generally received scant attention in conventional histories of the conflict, but a few women did considerably more than make bandages and tend the home fires. “War, like politics, was men’s work,” Karen Abbott writes, “and women were supposed to be among its victims, not its perpetrators. Women’s loyalty was assumed, regarded as a prime attribute of femininity itself, but now there was a question — one that would persist throughout the war — of what to do with what one Lincoln official called ‘fashionable women spies.’ Their gender provided them with both a psychological and a physical disguise; while hiding behind social mores about women’s proper roles, they could hide evidence of their treason on their very person, tucked beneath hoop skirts or tied up in their hair. Women, it seemed, were capable not only of significant acts of treason, but of executing them more deftly than men.”"
As classes start up again, some readers might be interested in the Washington Post's review of Elizabeth Green's Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach it to Everyone) (Norton). "Green describes with verve some of the key efforts to show that great teaching is a professional achievement rather than a natural ability." Green also spoke with Slate about her book this week. You can find that interview here.

Hillary Rodham Clinton reviews Henry Kissinger's latest book World Order (Penguin) for the Washington Post. (The Los Angeles Times also has a review of the book this week.)
"It is vintage Kissinger, with his singular combination of breadth and acuity along with his knack for connecting headlines to trend lines — very long trend lines in this case. He ranges from the Peace of Westphalia to the pace of microprocessing, from Sun Tzu to Talleyrand to Twitter. ... This long view can help us understand issues from Vladimir Putin’s aggression to Iran’s negotiating strategy, even as it raises the difficult question of “how divergent historic experiences and values can be shaped into a common order.”"
The latest issue of The New York Review of Books has a piece by David Cole reviewing Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin's Snuff Box to Citizens United by Zephyr Teachout (Harvard University Press).

Robert Cassanello's To Render Invisible: Jim Crow and Public Life in New South Jacksonville (University Press of Florida) is reviewed on H-Net. In the book, Cassanello "describes black life and labor in Jacksonville from the Civil War to the Great Migration, and he illustrates how racial tensions changed in New South Jacksonville as blacks made themselves more visible in public spaces."

New Books in American Studies has interviews with two authors this week. The first is with Staci Zavattaro, discussing her book Cities for Sale: Municipalities as Public Relations and Market Firms (SUNY Press). The second interview is with Matt Grossman, discussing his book Artists of the Possible: Governing Networks and American Policy Change Since 1945 (Oxford University Press).

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Weekend Roundup

  • .Yale Law's John Witt is delivering Two Humanitarianisms: A Constitution Day Lecture at Boston College on September 17 in a session jointly sponsored by BC's Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy and Legal History Roundtable.
  • Via H-Law: "The Common Law Epitomiz'd: Anthony Taussig's Law Books" is the latest exhibit from the Yale Law Library's Rare Book collection. It showcases the Law Library's acquisitions from the greatest private collection of rare English law books ever assembled: the collection of Anthony Taussig."
  • Sarah Abrevaya Stein, UCLA, announces the publication of her book, Saharan Jews and the Fate of French Algeria (University of Chicago Press, 2014).  It asks “why the Jews of Algeria’s south were marginalized by French authorities, how they negotiated the sometimes brutal results, and what the reverberations have been in the postcolonial era.”
Weekend Roundup is a weekly feature compiled by all the Legal History bloggers.

Friday, September 5, 2014

White on Beard and Progressive Legal Historiography

G. Edward White, University of Virginia School of Law, has posted Charles Beard & Progressive Legal Historiography, which appears in Constitutional Commentary 29 (2014).  Here is the abstract:
This essay was presented at a conference recognizing the centennial of the publication of Charles Beard’s An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution. It advances two arguments. The first is that Beard’s work is an early example of what I am calling “Progressive historiography,” a perspective that dominated the American historical profession from the early twentieth century through the 1960s, and which had certain defining characteristics, which are set forth in the essay. The second is that the principal explanation for why Progressive historiography retained its influence for so long is that it was a version of “winners history,” portraying the course of American civilization as a series of contests between entrenched elites and advocates of political, economic, and social leveling, all of which were eventually resolved in favor of the levelers. As such Progressive historiography simultaneously contained a critical posture toward established powerholders and an optimistic spin on the course of history that made it intuitively attractive to many persons entering the historical profession in the twentieth century.
Hat tip: Legal Theory Blog

Harvard Law & History Workshop Speakers: Fall 2014

The Harvard Law & History Workshop announces its lineup of speakers for the fall semester, 2014.

Sept. 16: Lea Vandervelde, Josephine Witte Professor of Law, University of Iowa College of Law, “Aspects of Slavery on the Antebellum Frontier”

Sept. 23: Alison LaCroix, Professor of Law and Ludwig and Hilde Wolf Teaching Scholar, University of Chicago Law School, “The Inter-bellum Constitution: Federalism in the Long Founding Moment”

Oct. 7: James Shaw, Senior Lecturer in History, The University of Sheffield, “The Form is in the Cloak, Not the Spirit: Equity in Early Modern Venetian Contract Disputes” (co-sponsored by Harvard’s Modern History Workshop)

Oct. 28: Amalia Kessler, Lewis Talbot and Nadine Hearn Shelton Professor of International Legal Studies, Stanford Law School, “The Freedmen's Bureau Exception: The Triumph of Due (Adversarial) Process and the Dawn of Jim Crow"

Nov. 4: Maeve Glass, Harvard Law School Berger-Howe Legal History Fellow, “Citizens of the State: State Citizenship, Rights Protection, and the Fourteenth Amendment”

Nov. 11: Julia Ott, Associate Professor of History, The New School for Social Research, “The Small Investor and the Regulatory State in the Progressive Era”


The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom

[From the Library of Congress Blog:]

Next Wednesday, the Library of Congress opens the exhibition “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom,” highlighting the legal and legislative struggles and victories leading to its passage, shedding light on the individuals – both prominent leaders and private citizens – who participated in the decades-long campaign for equality.

Six thematic sections in the exhibition – Prologue, Segregation Era, World War II and the Post-War Years, Civil Rights Era, Civil Rights Act of 1964 and The Impact – help patrons navigate through the exhibition.


CFP on "The Past, Present, and Future of the Palestine Mandate in International Law"

We have the following Call for Papers:
Call for Papers
Legalities and Legacies:
The Past, Present, and Future of the Palestine Mandate in International Law
Jerusalem, 21-22 June 2015
The Faculty of Law of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Columbia Law School invite the submission of written proposals for an international conference on the international law legacies of the Palestine mandate, to be held in Jerusalem on 21-22 June 2015, and for a subsequent publication. 
Recipients of this call for papers are invited to submit proposals to present a paper at the conference. Some authors of proposals selected for the conference will be offered partial or full coverage of flight and accommodation expenses. The full call for papers can be found here
Submissions: Researchers interested in addressing these and related questions are invited to respond to this call for papers with a 1-2 page proposal for an article and presentation, along with a brief CV, including a list of publications. Proposals should be submitted by email to Dr. Rotem Giladi of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem ( no later than 30 September 2014
Applicants should expect notification of the Conference Academic Committee’s decision by early November 2014. Written contributions (of 10,000-12,000 words), based on the selected proposals, will be expected no later than 15 April 2015.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Meanings of Justice in New World Empires

[We have the following announcement.]

Symposium on Comparative Early Modern Legal History: Meanings of Justice in New World Empires: Settler and Indigenous Law as Counterpoints, Friday, October 10, 2014, Newberry Library, Chicago.  Organized by Brian Owensby (University of Virginia) and Richard J. Ross (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).

Understandings of justice differed among New World empires and among the settlers, imperial officials, and indigenous peoples within each one.  This conference will focus on the array of meanings of justice, their emergence and transformation, and the implications of adopting one or another definition.  Our emphasis is less on the long-studied problem of the ethics of conquest and dispossession as on the notions of justice animating workaday negotiations, lawsuits, and assertions of right.  To this end, we are interested in the following sorts of questions: What about pre-contact legality and about European debates about law impelled empires to offer indigenous people access to settlers' courts and legal remedies?  How did indigenous notions of legality shape natives' resort to settlers' law?  How and why did it occur to Indians that European law offered them a tactical opportunity?  To what extent did indigenous litigants and communities see law as a moral resource?  In what ways did Indians misconstrue settler's legality because of their own preconceptions about justice?  How did indigenous recourse to law shape colonial and imperial legal structures?  These questions invite reflection on how settler law became intelligible-tactically, technically and morally-to natives. 

From the Europeans' point of view, settlers thought about their own legal order by reference to highly stylized depictions of natives' law.  Sometimes indigenous legality was treated as an example of primitivism, or savagery, or the work of the devil; sometimes as an honorable system appropriate to the social situation of Indians; sometimes as a precursor to imperial law; sometimes as reminiscent of legal systems in European antiquity or in other non-Western societies; and sometimes as an early stage in the Scottish Enlightenment's four-stage theory of socio-legal development.  How did indigenous law serve as a contrast that helped settlers legitimate, critique, and understand their own legal system?  Conversely, in what ways did the example of settler law occasion debates about the meaning of justice within native communities?  The conference will bring together law professors, historians, and social scientists to explore how settler and indigenous law acted as counterpoints within and across European New World empires.

Brian Owensby (University of Virginia History) and Richard Ross (Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Law and History) organized "Meanings of Justice in New World Empires: Settler and Indigenous Law as Counterpoints."  The conference is an offering of the Symposium on Comparative Early Modern Legal History, which gathers under the auspices of the Center for Renaissance Studies at the Newberry Library in Chicago in order to explore a particular topic in the comparative legal history of the Atlantic world in the period c.1492-1815.  Funding has been provided by the University of Illinois College of Law. 

Attendance at the Symposium is free and open to the public.  Participants and attendees should preregister by contacting the Center for Renaissance Studies at the Newberry Library at 312.255.3514, or send an e-mail to Papers will be precirculated electronically to all registrants. 

For information about the conference, please consult our website or contact Prof. Richard Ross at or at 217-244-7890. 

9:00 Welcome: Brian Owensby (University of Virginia, History) and Richard Ross (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Law and History)
9:05 to 10:40: Panel: Constructing Native Elites and Indigenous Jurisdictions (16C-17C)

Karen Graubart (Notre Dame, History): "Learning From the Qadi: The Jurisdiction of Local Rule in the Early Colonial Andes"

Alcira Dueñas (Ohio State, Newark, History): "Reclaiming the 'República de Indios:' Colonial Indigenous Agents in the Production and Enforcement of Law"

Bradley Dixon (University of Texas, Austin, History): "The 'Darling Indians': Bacon's Rebellion and the Crisis of Virginia's Native American Elite"

Commentator #1: Sherwin Bryant (Northwestern, History)

Commentator #2: Karen Kupperman (New York University, History)

Chair: Richard Ross (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Law and History)

10:55 to 12:30: Panel: Native and Settler Legal Understandings (17C-18C)

Jenny Pulsipher (BYU, History): "Defending and Defrauding the Indians:  John Wompas, Legal Pluralism, and the Sale of Indian Land"

Yanna Yannakakis (Emory, History): "'False justice' ('justicia xihui')? Colonial Law and Indian Jurisdiction in Highland Oaxaca, Mexico"

Tamar Herzog (Harvard, History): "Dialoguing with Barbarians: What Natives Said and Europeans Responded in Eighteenth-Century Portuguese-America"

Commentator #1 and Chair: Stuart Banner (UCLA, Law)

Commentator #2: Robert Morrissey (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, History)

1:50 to 3:05 : Panel: Indigenous Legal Ideas in the 18C

Bianca Premo (Florida International, History): "Now and Then: Status, Custom, and Modernity in Indian Law, Spanish America. 18th Century"

Craig Yirush (UCLA, History): "'Since We Came out of this Ground': Treaty Negotiations and Indigenous Legal Norms in Eighteenth-Century North America"

Commentator: Daniel Richter (University of Pennsylvania, History)

Chair: Brian Owensby (University of Virginia, History)

3:20 to 4:55 Panel: Native Law and the Long 19C

Gregory Ablavsky (University of Pennsylvania, Law and History): "Species of Sovereignty: Native Claims-Making and the Early American State"

Lauren Benton (New York University, History): "Protection, Jurisdiction, and Interpolity Legalities in the Atlantic World"

Marcela Echeverri (Yale, History): "Liberal Experiments and Indigenous Citizenship in New Granada, 1810-1814"

Commentator #1 and Chair: Frederick Hoxie (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, History)

Commentator #2: Emilio Kourí (University of Chicago, History)

GW's Cummins Legal History Research Grant

[We have the following announcement.]

GW Law is pleased to invite applications for the Richard & Diane Cummins Legal History Research Grant for 2015.

The Cummins Grant provides a stipend of $10,000 to support short-term historical research using Special Collections at GW’s Jacob Burns Law Library, which is noted for its continental historical legal collections, especially its French Collection. Special Collections also is distinguished by its holdings in Roman and canon law, church-state relations, international law, and its many incunabula. The grant is awarded to one doctoral, LLM, or SJD candidate; postdoctoral researcher; faculty member; or independent scholar. Candidates may come from a variety of disciplines including, but not limited to, law, history, religion, philosophy, or bibliography.

The deadline for submission of applications is October 15, 2014.

For information about the Cummins Grant, please visit here.

For information about Special Collections at the Jacob Burns Law Library, please visit here