Law and Humanities Roundup: Holiday Edition 12.14.18

Still Need Ideas for Holiday Gifts?

What about a “Decision Paperweight”? Eighteen dollars at Uncommon Goods. What about a first edition of John Jay Osborn’s The Paper Chase? I love what the Unemployed Philosopher’s Guild has on offer, including the Supreme Court Cases Mug and the Banned Books Mug. The National Archives sells a Declaration of Independence silk scarf ($60). You can also check out sites such as Etsy and eBay for interesting items; I’ve found lovely Brooke Cadwallader Declaration of Independence silk scarves, a scarf related to the famous Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins case, and other items. I collect scarves so those are the items I look for, but there are lots of mugs, pens, pins, ties, paperweights, bookends, decks of cards, first editions, gavels, lamps, and other things that would make any legal eagle chirp happily. I even found a lovely small watercolor of Alexis de Tocqueville on Etsy a couple of weeks ago; I snapped that up immediately.

New Publications

Here’s a book to put on your holiday shopping list for lawyers and law students on your list this holiday season: Laura Little’s Guilty Pleasures: Comedy and Law in America (Oxford University Press (Oxford University Press, 2018).

Few people associate law books with humor. Yet the legal world–in particular the American legal system–is itself frequently funny. Indeed, jokes about the profession are staples of American comedy. And there is actually humor within the world of law too: both lawyers and judges occasionally strive to be funny to deal with the drudgery of their duties. Just as importantly, though, our legal system is a strong regulator of humor. It encourages some types of humor while muzzling or punishing others. In a sense, law and humor engage a two-way feedback loop: humor provides the raw material for legal regulation and legal regulation inspires humor. In Guilty Pleasures, legal scholar Laura Little provides a multi-faceted account of American law and humor, looking at constraints on humor (and humor’s effect on law), humor about law, and humor in law. In addition to interspersing amusing episodes from the legal world throughout the book, the book contains 75 New Yorker cartoons about lawyers and a preface by Bob Mankoff, the cartoon editor for the New Yorker.



Cover for Guilty Pleasures


Kate Sutherland, who is a professor at Osgoode Hall, has published How To Draw a Rhinoceros (BookThug, 2018). Here’s a description of the book’s contents from the publisher’s website.

How to Draw a Rhinoceros, the first book of poems by Canadian writer, scholar, and lawyer Kate Sutherland, mines centuries of rhinoceros representations in art and literature to document the history of European and North American encounters with the animal—from the elephant–rhinoceros battles staged by monarchs in the Middle Ages; the rhinomania that took hold in France and later in Italy in response to the European travels of Clara the ‘Dutch’ Rhinoceros in the mid-1700s; the menageries and circuses of the Victorian era; the exploits of celebrated twentieth-century hunters like Teddy Roosevelt and Ernest Hemingway; and the trade in rhinoceros horn artefacts that thrives online today. Along the way, it explores themes of colonialism, animal welfare, and conservation. Sutherland was inspired on this poetic path by Clara, an eighteenth-century rhinoceros she first encountered in porcelain form in an exhibit of ceramic animals at Toronto’s Gardiner Museum. This chance experience set her off on a grand quest to learn all she could of Clara’s story, and resulted in a collection that combines Robert Kroetschian documentary poetics with the meticulous research and environmental passion of Elizabeth Kolbert, to successfully examine the centuries-long path of the rhinoceros that’s brought it to the brink of global extinction.




Rebecca Gould, College of Arts and Law, University of Birmingham; Harvard University, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, is publishing Justice Deferred: Legal Duplicity and the Scapegoat Mentality in Paul Laurence Dunbar’s Jim Crow America in Law & Literature. Here is the abstract.

Although best known as a poet, African-American writer Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) developed a unique voice in his fiction. This essay explores the bifurcation Dunbar discerned between the law as an instrument of justice and as a stabilizer of the segregationist status quo in Jim Crow America. Dunbar creates characters who are systematically scapegoated for crimes they did not commit in order to expose the law’s precarious relationship to justice. His treatment of lynching as a paradigmatic manifestation of the scapegoat mechanism links this practice to a political theory of violence, whereby the innocent are punished for the crimes of the guilty, and society requires their sacrifice in order to redeem its guilt. Without relinquishing his faith in the law, Dunbar used prose narratives to expose the disjuncture between law and justice made manifest by the US Supreme Court’s rationalization of racial discrimination in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). Beyond considering the light Dunbar’s fictions shed on the relationship between law and justice, I locate these interventions within a longer history of thinking about the role of the writer as a scapegoat who enables society to sin without experiencing guilt.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.


Edward Cavanagh, University of Cambridge, is publishing The Imperial Constitution of the Law Officers of the Crown: Legal Thought on War and Colonial Government, 1719–1774 in the Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History (2018). Here is the abstract.

The rule of conquest came to receive different applications for different parts of the British Empire. How this happened, and who was responsible for it happening, are the interests of this article. Calling upon court reports, parliamentary records, and correspondence between various officeholders in the early Hanoverian government, attention will be drawn in particular to the attorney general and the solicitor general (the law officers of the crown) and the advice they offered upon the governance of colonies between 1719 and 1774. Focusing upon the conventions that pertain to war and conquest in Ireland, the Caribbean, India, and North America, this article reveals inconsistency in doctrine, but consistency in the procedures by which law officers of the crown acquired influence over proceedings in the houses of parliament and in the courts of common law and equity. Just as often in their formal capacities as in their informal capacities, the attorney general and the solicitor general were pivotal to the development of the imperial constitution, in constant response, as they were, to the peculiar demands of various colonies and plantations in the British Empire.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.


More notifications of new publications and upcoming symposia and conferences available at the Law and Humanities Blog.


New Podcasts


New podcasts to check out include Good Law Bad Law, hosted by Aaron Freiwald (Freiwald Law), and Ipse Dixit, hosted by Brian Frye (University of Kentucky Law). You can find Ipse Dixit through Apple Itunes, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. Both podcasts cover a number of different areas of law. Other podcasts you might want to try include Atlanta Monster, which tells the story of the Atlanta Child Murders, Night Time, which focuses on Canadian crime and law, and the Australian true crime series Unravel.

If you like dramatizations, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine offers stories taken from its archives. Here’s a link. The CBS Radio Mystery Theater has made stories from its legendary broadcasts available again here.

Calls For Papers and Submissions


The ABA invites submissions for the 2019 Silver Gavel Awards for Media and the Arts. The nine eligible categories include books, commentary, documentaries, drama and literature, magazines, multimedia, newspapers, radio, and television. More here. 

CFP: Visual Discourse and its Circulation between Europe and Asia
Language-focused discourses have long lost their privileged position in humanities since discourse came to be understood as any communicative social practice through which meaning is created. In interface Issue 9 we would like to focus on Visual Discourse (i.e., those social practices that depend extensively on visual cues for the production of meaning) and its Circulation between the East and the West. Pictorial texts (such as still and moving images, the built environment, etc.) are easy to get across language barrier on the one hand; on the other hand, the ambiguity of visual image can generate more cultural misunderstandings and even new meanings in the course of cross-cultural communication
While we very much welcome articles seeking to expand the realm of research in Visual Discourse, we also invite articles that pay attention to the boundary of visual text itself so as to examine the very nature of visuality in the multiple cultural contexts. Firstly, an important issue we would like to see discussed is translation (adaptation) between visual and other types of text and medium (literary, acoustic, etc.). Secondly, we would appreciate discussions of the effects in the meaning-creation of invisible elements (visually unrepresentable) appearing alongside the visual discourse, and which are often influenced by the historical, cultural, and political contexts.
interface –Journal of European Languages and Literatures is inviting original unpublished papers written in English, French, German, Spanish Russian or Italian for interface Issue 9, to be published in June 2019 that could address, but need not be restricted to, the following topics:
-Transcultural and cross-genre translation (adaptation) including visual language.
-Visualization of invisible or invisiblization of visual factors in the process of cross-cultural interface
-Visual aspects of cultural commemoration and “memory-scape” on wars, revolutions, and other significant events
-Politics of visual representation in the media discourse.

Papers should be submitted online at no later than March 31, 2019.

All potential authors should consult our website for Author Guidelines
Upcoming Symposia and Conferences
The Association of American Law Schools holds its Annual Conference from January 2 to January 6. 

Law and Humanities events of interest include the Law and Film event on Thursday, January 3. The AALS Law and Film Committee will be hosting a screening of “The Loving Story”  (6-8 p.m.) The documentary follows the story of Richard and Mildred Loving and their fight to overturn the Virginia law that prohibited interracial marriage.

On January 5, the Legal History and Law and Humanities Sections will host a joint program on Confronting the History and Memory of
Injustice in the Public Square from 1:30 to 3:15.

On January 4, the American Bar Foundation Program- Women Trailblazers in the Law Oral History Project will host a program from 8:30 to 10:15. There will be a second program on January 4 from 1:30 to 3:15.

The Association For the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities meets at Carleton University in Ottawa March 22-23, 2019. More information is available at its website.

The Wake Forest Law Review is sponsoring a symposium on Cognitive Emotion and the Law, Friday, February 22, 2019. It will include many eminent speakers and cover a number of interesting topics. Here’s a description of the symposium.

This symposium will bring together experts from academia, legal practice, neuroscience, philosophy, and communication to explore emotion and other affective experience. It will delve into common core themes regarding cognitive emotion and the law, and it will explore the brain science underlying emotion and reason. This symposium will further discuss how law students, law professors, lawyers, and judges can use principles of emotional intelligence to foster better legal reasoning and results as well as to foster health, respect, and inclusivity. This symposium will also examine specific areas where greater emotional intelligence can enlighten all of us. These specific areas include racism, homophobia, sexism, extreme rhetoric, public health, and responses to public disasters.

More about the event here.

The website Hedgehogs and Foxes (HaF) is seeking submissions, notices of upcoming publications, and other information related to law and the humanities. HaF is an open access, peer-reviewed site.

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