Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Age of Fracture Roundtable on the U.S. Intellectual History Blog

U.S. Intellectual History has posted comments from a Roundtable on Daniel Rodgers, Age of Fracture.  The panel was held at the Fourth Annual U.S. Intellectual History Conference recently in New York.  This may be of interest to legal historians. Rodgers' book incorporates some aspects of late 20th Century legal history into his broader analysis of the way ideas fracture in late 20th century American thought.

To follow the discussion, I would start with Andrew Hartman's excellent opening comment, since he lays out the ideas in the book as a whole. In Rodgers' book, Alexander Bickel is something of a peripheral character.  My remarks set him in the center of constitutional theory in the 1960s and 70s, which I think clarifies the intellectual environment within which the 1980s originalists, who Rodgers focuses more directly on, were writing.  But I started with something else entirely:  the experience of going to law school at a time when the developments in Rodgers' book were unfolding.  (Mine is just a small conference comment.  The most important work on the history of Yale Law School is of course Laura Kalman's.)  My comment assumes that you've read the book, so apologies if it's a bit opaque.

U.S. Intellectual History, which began as a blog, has now become a "real" organization (you can join here).  I would keep an eye out for it.  We need their serious treatment of ideas in history.  And frankly, they need us to get the legal history part of this right.  For coverage of the conference, see this New York Times piece.