This spring I am again teaching my seminar on “Law and History.” In case of interest, here is our list of readings. The seminar is aimed at future lawyers, not future legal historians. So, the goal is not to be comprehensive or to provide the kind of methodological instruction that a history department legal history course might attempt. Rather, the goal is to give students a sampling of different approaches and topics in legal history (with an emphasis on recent scholarship rather than attempting a full survey of “canonical” works), some insight into how historians think (or think they think) as compared to how lawyers think (or think they think), and an introduction to the issues that arise when historians seek to inform or influence the law, and/or when courts draw on narratives about history to explain their decisions.
This year, I reshuffled things to more concretely pair historical readings on a given theme with an example of a Supreme Court case on the same theme that draws on history or narratives about history in some way. (Every third week is a workshop session on the students’ own papers, which sometimes also involves readings that we are using as models, but I haven’t included those readings here.) Continue reading Law and History Seminar (new and improved)
This spring I am teaching a new seminar on “Law and History.” In case of interest, here is the course description and a tentative list of readings. The seminar is aimed at future lawyers, not future legal historians. So, the goal is not to be comprehensive or to provide the kind of methodological instruction that a history department legal history course might attempt. Rather, the goal is to give students a sampling of different approaches and topics in legal history (with an emphasis on recent scholarship rather than attempting a full survey of “canonical” works), some insight into how historians think (or think they think) as compared to how lawyers think, and an introduction to the issues that arise when historians seek to inform or influence the law. (This post is not the complete syllabus but just a list of some of the readings I plan to include.) Continue reading Law and History Seminar
Since I am finishing up a dissertation on the history of public defenders, several friends and colleagues have alerted me to this viral story about the Missouri public defender who took the unusual step of assigning a case to his state’s governor, pursuant to a provision of state law authorizing the public defender agency to deputize private attorneys. According to the news reports, the governor in question, Jay Nixon, has repeatedly vetoed or reduced budget appropriations for the state public defender agency in recent years.
The gambit appears to have succeeded at what I assume was its goal–calling attention to the agency’s budget shortfall and thereby forcing the governor’s hand–although it remains to be seen whether any additional funding will follow as a result.
Here are a few quick thoughts placing this story into historical context: Continue reading Quick thoughts on the Missouri public defender gambit
At last month’s American Society for Legal History conference, I had the pleasure of presenting on a panel with fellow criminal justice historians Elizabeth Hinton, Melanie Newport, and Amanda Hughett. I wrote up a recap of our panel for the Legal History Blog, which you can read here.
This year I am teaching a legal history seminar looking at American criminal process. In case of interest, here are some of the main readings, with links to open access copies if I could find them and otherwise links to bibliographical or purchase information (let me know if you have more accessible links for any of these). This isn’t the exact syllabus, much less a comprehensive bibliography of the subject, but I thought it might be a useful starting point for others who might want to incorporate some of these topics into more general history courses. Continue reading American Criminal Procedure in Historical Perspective
So I guess they might call it re-branding, in the corporate world: anyway, here’s my new website. It’s basically an upgrade of the WordPress site I’d been tinkering with for a few months, now self-hosted and more bloggy. I’m hoping to use this site to do more regular sharing of thoughts on what I’m reading, my research, pedagogy, and other topics that aspiring-academic types like me think about. In addition to history, I read a lot of novels, long-form journalism, and cultural criticism, so expect some commentary on matters of style, too. For instance, I like to keep track of well-structured paragraphs that I come across, so those are what the “Paragraph Project” posts are about. Beyond those predictions, the site is a work in progress, so I guess we’ll just have to see what exactly turns up here.
I’ve sort of been my own inspiration in deciding to branch out into more of a general-interest blogger (well, a general-interest academic blogger). For the past year I’ve been blogging about prison law and policy issues at Prison Law Blog (which I’ll keep doing). Now, I am a skeptic about a lot of claims people make for the Internet and in my ideal world, we would all still be reading newsprint and typing on Olivettis. But I will say that in the criminal justice space, I have found that blogging has been an incredible way to share ideas and to meet, albeit virtually, other people interested in similar issues as I am — to a degree that has far exceeded my expectations. But Prison Law Blog is definitely more of a Sara-as-Citizen project than Sara-as-Scholar (not that they’re totally separable). Although I do study the history of crime and punishment, and I keep up with the scholarly literature on prisons, I don’t actually do a lot of work on prisons per se in my own research. So, I guess I’m hoping that I can use this site to do for my day job what Prison Law Blog has done for my side gig as criminal justice gadfly.
— White-throated kingfisher, from a “Birds of India” slide show at NYTimes.com.
Given some of my research interests, I think I don’t know nearly enough about the history/sociology/anthropology of medicine, particularly psychiatry. Here’s a new book that I would like to read when I have the time: Continue reading The Protest Psychosis
I was tickled by this line from a Roger Scruton essay:
I too am tempted to eff the ineffable.
But I wondered: Is “eff” really a verb? (Is “scrute” or “whelm”?) To the online OED! (A proxy subscription to which is surely among the greatest little perquisites of university affiliation.) Alas, it seems that “to eff” is indeed listed as a verb in that definitive lexicon, but not with quite the meaning Scruton assigned to it:
Continue reading I Eff, You Eff, She Effs
Think of these updates like pamphlets — as defined by George Orwell via Bernard Bailyn:
The pamphlet is a one-man show. One has complete freedom of expression, including, if one chooses, the freedom to be scurrilous, abusive, and seditious; or, on the other hand, to be more detailed, serious and “high-brow” than is ever possible in a newspaper or in most kinds of periodicals. At the same time, since the pamphlet is always short and unbound, it can be produced much more quickly than a book, in principle, at any rate, can reach a bigger public. Above all, the pamphlet does not have to follow any prescribed pattern. It can be in prose or in verse, it can consist largely of maps or statistics or quotations, it can take the form of a story, a fable, a letter, an essay, a dialogue, or a piece of “reportage.” All that is required of it is that it shall be topical, polemical, and short.