Roundup: Law and Humanities 06.20.16

So much going on in law and humanities these days that it’s hard to pick and choose what to bring you. Here’s a sampling.


There will be a Conference on Law and Ritual September 22-23, 2016 Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, sponsored by Voices of Law.

Here is a link to the conference website.

Follow news of the conference on Twitter:  #LawAndRitual @VoicesofLaw


The organizers of the LSU Conference on Law, Authorship, and Appropriation are still accepting paper proposals for the Conference, which will take place at LSU A&M, Baton Rouge, on October 28 and 29, 2016. The original call (with updated dates) is reproduced below.

Call for Papers

By Any Other’s Name: A Conference on Law, Authorship, and Appropriation

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, October 28-29, 2016

On October 28-29, 2016, the LSU College of Music and Dramatic Arts, LSU School of Theatre, the LSU Law Center, LSU’s ORED (Office of Research and Economic Development) and the Law and Humanities Institute will co-sponsor a conference on law, authorship, and appropriation on the LSU A and M campus in Baton Rouge, LA. This conference will bring together scholars, performers, and students to discuss law and authorship in the face of challenges issued by artists who engage in appropriation—the practice of taking the works of others to rethink or recreate new works.

Some artists who engage in appropriation may describe their activities as parody, sampling, or remixing. Some artists whose work is appropriated may describe the result as misappropriation. Writers might describe the use or reuse of words variously as hommage or plagiarism. Lawyers weigh in both sides of the issue, interpreting such reuse as fair use or infringement, depending on the circumstances.

Digital technology creates a host of new considerations, from the opportunity for a creator to license rights up-front (or not at all) to opportunities for users to create content cooperatively, either on the Web or in face-to-face settings.

What do such changes, in law and in aesthetics and art, mean for our understandings of authorship and the relationship between creator and audience? Do words like “author” and “creator” even continue to have meaning?

General areas for possible paper topics include, but are not limited to:

Appropriation vs. Theft

Cultural appropriation

Defenses to copyright infringement

Digital sampling and the law

Fair use and specific forms of artistic expression (parody, fan fiction, other)

History and concept of authorship

Plagiarism and originality in creation

Wearable technology and IP

We encourage proposals that engage all geographic areas and historical periods.

Together scholars and performers in the areas of free speech, copyright, and the arts to examine conflicts that arise between traditional creators of content and artists who use and/or re-use existing content to remake, remix and develop new works. In addition, the event will begin to examine some ways that the academy and the professions can educate young artists, attorneys, and students to understand these issues.

The conference will provide opportunities for discussion, student engagement, and active learning with leading scholars and professionals in the industry in the areas of freedom of expression, intellectual property law, and the creative and performing arts. We also envision opportunities for performances that demonstrate some of the ways artists work proactively and thoughtfully in these areas.

To that end participants should be willing to engage with attendees in break-out and discussion sessions.

Performers are encouraged to submit proposals. If your proposal includes a performance, please indicate what kind in the abstract.

Paper Submission Information

Please send abstracts of no more than 500 words in PDF or Word format to Christine Corcos at or Kristin Sosnowsky at by July 6, 2016. We will make decisions by July 13, 2016. .

Some funding may be available for successful applicants. Panelists will have the option to offer completed papers for inclusion in a peer-reviewed conference volume.


CWRU Center For Professional Ethics Announces
Panelists for Annual Conference to Be Selected by Paper Competition

Friday, April 8, 2016  /

The Center for Professional Ethics will sponsor a panel on ”Ethics, Art, and International Law“ as part of the Cox Center’s annual conference on Friday, September 16, 2016. Speakers for this panel will be selected via a paper competition, with winning entries given a cash award and travel and lodging expenses to participate in the conference.

The title of the conference is “The Art of International Law.” In addition to celebrating the Cleveland Museum of Art’s 100th Anniversary, the conference will explore several topics at the intersection of law and art, including the repatriation and return of art looted by the Nazis, the destruction of cultural heritage and archaeological sites, and the increasingly transnational character of the film industry. Confirmed speakers include Mark Ellis (Executive Director of the International Bar Association). William Schabas (Middlesex), Margaret Miles (UC Irvine), and Allan Gerson (former Counsel to the US mission to the United Nations).

ELIGIBILITY: We encourage law students, faculty, and practicing attorneys to submit original, unpublished papers for consideration. Papers should address one or more issues within the broad framework of ethics, art, and international law. There are no length restrictions, though we generally encourage submissions between 20 and 50 pages (roughly 10,000 to 30,000 words). Prizes will be awarded to the top submissions, with a $500 award to the winning paper in the Student category and a $1000 award to the winning paper in the Faculty/Attorney category. The author of the winning Faculty/Attorney paper will be invited to participate in a symposium panel, and others may be invited as well if space permits. Travel and lodging expenses will be reimbursed for the presenting authors and discussants. As a condition of acceptance, award winners must agree to publish the paper, if selected, in the Symposium edition of the

Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law.

PAPER SUBMISSION PROCEDURE: Please submit papers in a Microsoft Word version no later than July 1, 2016. If you do not have a final draft at that time, you may submit a shorter précis; however, preference will go to submissions with completed drafts, and all award winners will be expected to produce a final draft by the date of the Symposium. Please indicate in a cover letter whether you are a current law student, faculty member, or practicing attorney. You may submit your papers to Professor Cassandra Burke Robertson at Alternatively, you may send a hard-copy to:

Cassandra Burke Robertson

Professor of Law and Laura B. Chisolm

Distinguished Research Scholar

Director, Center for Professional Ethics

Case Western Reserve University School of Law

11075 East Boulevard

Cleveland, OH  44106


Decisions regarding the symposium program will be made no later than July 15, 2016. General inquiries regarding the conference should be directed to Professor Tim Webster ( or Nancy Pratt (, Director of Academic Centers.

More here at the website.


AALS Annual Meeting Events


The AALS Section on Law & the Humanities is pleased to announce a Call for Papers from which presenters will be selected for the Section’s joint program with Evidence to be held during the AALS 2017 Annual Meeting in San Francisco, Jan. 3-7, 2017.

The topic for this year’s joint program is Narrating Evidence. In the past year, crime documentaries like Serial and Making a Murderer have been spectacularly successful. These programs and others like them have pushed many boundaries, including the boundaries between truth and justice, advocacy and art, and law and fiction. In so doing the diverse programs have suggested a role for critical interventions that interrogate where boundaries collapse and offer analyses of the interrelation between domains. One particularly rich area of inquiry in this context concerns witnessing, confession, and narrative. How do these legal and personal stories get translated from law into media? And how do humanistic devices help us better understand the complications of these narratives as they exist within the legal system. This panel will address the question of evidence, as it exists between the worlds of law and cultural representation, and in particular the ways in which questions about evidence are embedded in related questions about narrative design.

Submissions should be abstracts between 250 and 1000 words; please send full papers if available. Scholarship may be at any stage of the publication process from work-in-progress to completed article. Each potential speaker may submit only one abstract for consideration. Paper proposals should be submitted electronically to Allison Tait ( by June 1.

The papers selected for the panel will be announced in late June. Presenters will be responsible for paying the AALS meeting registration fee and hotel and travel expenses. If you have any questions about the panel of paper submissions, please contact Allison Tait (


For your consideration: AALS and the AALS Law and Film Committee have arranged for the following films to be screened at the 2017 AALS Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017, 7 p.m. AALS Law and Film Series: The Feature Film Selection:  a screening of the classic film Anatomy of a Murder.  Anatomy of a Murder (1959), the classic courtroom drama, was directed by Otto Preminger (who earned a law degree before turning to film), and stars James (Jimmy) Stewart, Ben Gazzara, Lee Remick, Eve Arden, George C. Scott, and numerous other well known actors of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Under the pen name Robert Traver, Michigan Supreme Court Associate Justice John D. Voelker wrote the novel on which the film is based.  Duke Ellington composed the electrifying score.

Professor Christine Corcos will provide commentary and lead a discussion of the film.

Thursday, January 5, 2017, 6:30 p.m. AALS Law and Film Series: The Feature Film Selection: a screening of La Jaula de Oro/The Golden Dream.   La jaula de oro (“The Cage of Gold”/ “The Golden Dream” (2013) is a Mexican feature film directed by Diego Quemada-Díez. The film features an ensemble cast of Central American younger undocumented immigrants fleeing Guatemala, and who make their way to the United States in a harrowing fashion by foot and by “la bestia,” the train that snakes its way to the border, with immigrants clinging to it at great peril. This is a timely film, made with great skill and narrative power. La Jaula de Oro has already received screenings on college campuses.

La Jaula de Oro producer Luis Salinas and Professor Michael Olivas will provide commentary and lead discussion of the film.



Fellowships and Scholarships

Via Karen McAuliffe, Professor of Law, University of Birmingham @dr_KMcA

Birmingham Law School – Doctoral Scholarships

Birmingham Law School would like to invite applications for two Doctoral Scholarships beginning in September 2016.

The scholarships are open to candidates interested in pursuing postgraduate research in any of the disciplines and fields covered by Birmingham Law School. Applicants should be able to demonstrate a track record of excellence in their field and be able to meet the normal entry requirements for the University of Birmingham’s PhD programmes.  No teaching experience is necessary, but teaching experience may be available to the award holder.

Applications are also open to current students.

Value of Award

These two awards cover tuition fees for three years full-time. They also include £11,000 support per year towards living expenses for full-time applicants. Adjusted pro-rata for part-time applicants.

Eligibility Criteria

These awards are open to Home and EU students for campus-based doctoral research in Birmingham Law School. Part-time applicants may also be considered.

How to Apply

In order to apply, you must first have completed an application to study. In order to do so, please select a course from our Coursefinder listings, and select ‘How to Apply’ under

Course Details.

Once you have done so, please complete the funding application form below, and return the completed form to by 4pm on Thursday 30 June 2016.

Your application must also be supported by two references. It is your responsibility as the applicant to forward the reference form below to both nominated referees, and advise them that references must be returned to by the application deadline, of 4pm on Thursday 30 June 2016.

Law Scholarships  – Doctoral Application Form 2016-2017 (PDF downloadable from site-Ed.)

Law Scholarships – Doctoral Reference Form 2016-2017 (PDF downloadable from site–Ed.)


College of Arts and Law 



Kate Hamburger Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities “Law as Culture” Fellowship Announcement

October 1, 2016, to March 31, 2018, Bonn
The Kate Hamburger Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities “Law as Culture” ( invites academics of excellent standing to apply for a fellowship or junior fellowship, for the research period from October 1, 2016, to March 31, 2018 with a maximum term of 12 months, on the research topic: Law and politics.
OVERVIEW: While the first research period of the Center (2010-2016) approached the topic of law as a cultural phenomenon in a systematic and comparative way, in the second phase of research the relation of law to other cultural spheres of modernity will be put on the agenda. Large parts of classical social theory consider the principle of functional differentiation the hallmark of modern societies. In contrast, a non-functionalist analysis of social differentiation, based on the comparison of cultures, becomes vital in order to illuminate the variable relation of social spheres and fields of action in different contexts. This aim of observing the complex of law and politics demands in-depth studies on regionally specific constellations, e.g. by way of a cultural sociology of the state. Moreover, general analyses of the effects of transnational and global constitutionalism on the one hand and the denial of rights and the powerlessness of law on the other must be taken into account as well. All submitted research proposals should follow one of the three transversal schemes of the Center, namely, first, “cultures of differentiation” along with the program’s overall basis in a comparative approach towards various legal cultures, second, “human rights and autonomy” and, third, “emotive foundations of the law and the binding force of law”.
APPLICATION PROCEDURE: The Kate Hamburger Centre for Advanced Study in the Humanities “Law as Culture” offers a creative place of study for various disciplines in the cultural and legal sciences. Academics of excellent standing may apply by 15 July 2016 with inclusion of their resume, project description (5-10 pages) and selected publications by mail or email (

Dr. phil. Stefan Finger

Managing Director of the Kate Hamburger Kolleg “Recht als Kultur” Internationales Kolleg für Geisteswissenschaftliche Forschung Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities “Law as Culture” Konrad-Zuse-Platz 1-3 53227 Bonn




A newly published book makes the case (pun intended) for a link between a real life trial and Harper Lee’s famous novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Joseph Madison Beck’s My Father and Atticus Finch (Norton, 2016) retells the story of a 1930s Alabama rape trial in which Mr. Beck’s father defended a black man against rape charges. It also explores pre-civil rights era race relations in the South, and the image of Southern lawyers.

Additional information, including an interview with the author, here. Via Allen Mendenhall @allenmendenhall.




Wendy A. Adams, Associate Professor of Law, McGill University, is publishing Popular Culture and Legal Pluralism: Narrative as Law (Routledge, 2017). Here is a description of the contents from the publisher’s website.

Drawing upon theories of critical legal pluralism and psychological theories of narrative identity, this book argues for an understanding of popular culture as legal authority, unmediated by translation into state law. In narrating our identities, we draw upon collective cultural narratives, and our narrative/nomos obligational selves become the nexus for law and popular culture as mutually constitutive discourse.

The author demonstrates the efficacy and desirability of applying a pluralist legal analysis to examine a much broader scope of subject matter than is possible through the restricted perspective of state law alone. The study considers whether presumptively illegal acts might actually be instances of a re-imagined, alternative legality, and the concomitant implications. As an illustrative example, works of critical dystopia and the beliefs and behaviours of eco/animal-terrorists can be understood as shared narrative and normative commitments that constitute law just as fully as does the state when it legislates and adjudicates.

This book will be of great interest to academics and scholars of law and popular culture, as well as those involved in interdisciplinary work in legal pluralism.


Popular Culture and Legal Pluralism: Narrative as Law (Hardback) book cover



Andrei Marmor, Cornell University Law School, has published Norms, Reasons, and the Law as Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 16-19. Here is the abstract.

Legal philosophers tend to talk about the normativity of law as if it is a central aspect of law that we need to explain, often assuming that there a single underlying question about it. I think that this is a mistake. Part of what I argue in this paper is that there isn’t really anything unique to the normativity of law. But this follows from something more fundamental that I explore here, which is the nature of norm following. My aim is to show that different kinds of norms provide reasons for action in different ways. The four kinds of norms that are discussed include norms that function to codify preexisting reasons for action, norms that instantiate or complete reasons for action that underdetermine the modes of conduct which would be responsive to the reasons, norms that constitute various human activities, and finally, authoritative directives. Having explored how these different types of norms bear on our reasons for action, I hope to show that these four kinds of norms are present in law as well, suggesting that the normativity of law is both complex and multifarious, yet not, I argue, essentially different from normativity in other domains.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.


Lea S. VanderVelde, University of Iowa College of Law, has published The Last Legally Beaten Servant in America: From Compulsion to Coercion in the American Workplace, at 39 Seattle U. L. Rev. 727 (2016) and as U. Iowa Legal Studies Research Paper 16-11. Here is the abstract.

The absence of corporal punishment in the American workplace is considered the epitome of our national claim to being a civilized and progressive society. Under Blackstone, however, the master held the right to “correct” his servants, and Blackstone was widely read into American common law. The article sets out four progress metanarratives and tests the demise of corporal punishment of workers against those theories of progressive change.

This article traces the demise of a master’s ability to strike a servant through the language of treatises and court decisions. The legal texts mark the explanatory rhetorical shift away from insulating master’s use of corporal punishment to regarding such actions as tortious. The pathway by which this change occurred shaped what came thereafter. Corporal punishment became more rationalized in the early republic with local laws limiting the means and reasons for which it could be deployed. Thereafter corporal punishment became disfavored, but the privilege was retained as the acceptable means of discipline for increasingly more marginalized groups of workers. The result was that as the master’s general right to use corporal punishment eroded, the use of corporal punishment against slaves and African Americans gained acceptability as a means of racial domination rather than as workplace discipline.

Without the ability to corporally discipline workers, a new means of discipline, employment at-will, took its place. The state no longer had an obvious activity – whipping – to regulate, so state regulation of the reasons justifying employer discipline eroded as well. Employers didn’t necessarily lose in the transformation. This presents less of a gain to the concept of free labor than one might have hoped for. So the progress narrative that links humanitarian impulse to the self-interest of the more powerful group seems to best explain the transformation. Employers preferred a method of discipline that could be transferred and delegated to middle-managers, in a way that corporal punishment could not be.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.


Anna Bryson, Queen’s University Belfast, is publishing Victims, Violence & Voice: Transitional Justice, Oral History & Dealing with the Past in volume 39 of the Hastings Int’l & Comp. L. Rev. (2016). Here is the abstract.


Transitional justice is concerned with the legal and social processes established to deal with the legacy of violence in post-authoritarian and post-conflict contexts.  The interview — in different guises, contexts and settings — is at the heart of most transitional justice processes. Prosecutorial mechanisms, truth recovery commissions, assessments for reparations, applications for amnesty — all of these and more are fueled by the art of one human being interviewing another and then presenting or “re-presenting” the material recorded, to make it “fit” with the broader transitional goals of a particular institution.   Most transitional justice institutions are, in the final analysis, “creatures of law.” They are typically established by statute, their work is molded and shaped by lawyers, and their outcomes are benchmarked against what is or is not acceptable under domestic and international law.  In such a context, it is little wonder that some transitional scholars have expressed concerns about the dominance of legalism within the field and the instrumentalization of those most directly affected by past violence.  A commonly prescribed — but as yet largely empirically untested — corrective is that transitional justice theory and practice must become more open to interdisciplinary insights and perspectives.  As a historian now working at a law school, I hope to develop this proposition in this article, by reflecting on the theoretical and practical intersections between law, history, and the interview.  To focus my analysis, I apply an oral history lens to transitional justice, and concentrate in particular on interview-based initiatives that purport to be “victim-centered.”

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

Law and Popular Culture

J. K. Rowling infuses the Harry Potter stories with many important human rights messages. In a short quiz (link below), RightsInfo blogger Natasha Holcroft-Emmess asks whether you can tell the difference between human rights language from the Harry Potter works and actual human rights documents or statements from human rights leaders around the world.

Here’s the link to the quiz from the RightsInfo blog….

And below is a selected bibliography on Harry Potter and human rights.

Benjamin G. Davis, When Harry Met Martin: Imagination, Imagery and the Color Line, in The Law in Harry Potter (Carolina Academic Press, 2010), at 179.

Benjamin Loffredo, Harry Potter and the Curse of Difference, in The Law in Harry Potter, (Carolina Academic Press, 2010) at 167.

Alison McMorran Sulentic, Harry Potter and the Image of God: How House-Elves Can Help Us to Understand the Dignity of the Person, in The Law in Harry Potter (Carolina Academic Press, 2010) at 189.

Geoffrey R. Watson, The Persecution of Tom Riddle: A Study in Human Rights Law, in The Law in Harry Potter (Carolina Academic Press, 2010) at 103.

Have suggestions to add to the bibliography above? Send them along! Thanks.


To distract us from politics in this election year, Anthony Franze offers a list of ten Supreme Court novels in this post for the ABA Journal. I’ll list them here, to spare you the trouble of clicking through the ABAJ’s “gallery” setup. I don’t know about you, but I’m not overly fond of the “click to see the next item” format.

Below: Mr. Franze’s choices.

Margaret Truman, Murder in the Supreme Court (1982).

John Grisham, The Pelican Brief (1982).

Brad Meltzer, The Tenth Justice (1997).

Paul Levine, Nine Scorpions (1998).

Christopher Buckley, Supreme Courtship (2008).

Phillip Margolin, Supreme Justice (2010).

Max Allan Collins, Supreme Justice (2014).

David Lat, Supreme Ambitions (2014).

Kermit Roosevelt, Allegiance (2015).

Jay Wexler, Tuttle in the Balance (2015).

What are your selections?

Mr. Franze doesn’t cover movies and tv episodes, but here are some to choose from.

The Talk of the Town (1942). A law professor, nominated to a Supreme Court seat, finds himself in a delicate situation when an escaped prisoner turns up in the house he is staying in. Stars Jean Arthur, Cary Grant (he’s not the law professor), and Ronald Colman.

Separate But Equal (TVM 1991). Powerful retelling of the Brown vs. Board of Education litigation. With Sidney Poitier as the young Thurgood Marshall.

The Magnificent Yankee (1950). Film biography of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., starring Louis Calhern, based on the Francis Biddle book.

The Pelican Brief (1993). Film adaptation of the Grisham novel, starring Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington.

Gideon’s Trumpet (1980). A dramatization of Clarence Gideon’s historic fight for the right for representation for criminal defendants. With the wonderful Henry Fonda as Gideon, and John Houseman (he of The Paper Chase) as the Chief Justice.

Mr. and Mrs. Loving (TVM 1996). Timothy Hutton and Lela Rochon in a dramatization of the 1967 case that put an end to state laws forbidding interracial marriage.

The People Vs. Larry Flynt (1996). A dramatization of adult magazine publisher Flynt’s legal battles. The Supreme Court scene isn’t long, but it’s powerful.

First Monday in October (1981). Walter Matthau and Jill Clayburgh in the film version of a Jerome Lawrence play about the first woman nominated to a Supreme Court seat.

Confirmation (TVM 2016). A dramatization of the Supreme Court nomination hearings of Clarence Thomas. Kerry Washington plays Professor Anita Hill and and Wendell Pierce plays Judge (later Justice) Thomas.

Roe v. Wade (1989). Holly Hunter plays the central figure in this drama that brings the famous Texas abortion case to the Court.

Television episodes:

Picket Fences. Episode: May It Please the Court (1994)

The West Wing. Episode: The Short List (1999).



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