Any student of American history knows of Washington, Jefferson, and the other statesmen who penned the documents that form the legal foundations of our nation, but many other great minds contributed to the development of the young republic’s judicial system – figures such as William Littell, Ben Monroe, and John J. Marshall. These men, some of Kentucky’s earliest law reporters, are the forgotten trailblazers who helped establish the foundation of the state’s court system.
In Writing the Legal Record: Law Reporters in Nineteenth-Century Kentucky, Kurt X. Metzmeier provides portraits of the men whose important yet understudied contributions helped create a new common law inspired by English legal traditions but fully grounded in the decisions of American judges. He profiles individuals such as James Hughes, a Revolutionary War veteran who worked as a legislator to reform confusing property laws inherited from Virginia. Also featured is George M. Bibb, a prominent U.S. senator and the secretary of the treasury under President John Tyler.
To shed light on the pioneering individuals responsible for collecting and publishing the early opinions of Kentucky’s highest court, Metzmeier reviews nearly a century of debate over politics, institutional change, human rights, and war. Embodied in the stories of these early reporters are the rich history of the Commonwealth, the essence of its legal system, and the origins of a legal print culture in America.
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
The University Press of Kentucky has published Kurt Metzmeier’s Writing the Legal Record: Law Reporters in Nineteenth-Century Kentucky. From the description:
Friday, February 10, 2017
The University Press of New England has published Sonja Schillings’s Enemies of All Humankind: Fictions of Legitimate Violence. From the description:
Hostis humani generis, meaning “enemy of humankind,” is the legal basis by which Western societies have defined such criminals as pirates, torturers, or terrorists as beyond the pale of civilization.
Sonja Schillings argues that the legal fiction designating certain persons or classes of persons as enemies of all humankind does more than characterize them as inherently hostile: it supplies a narrative basis for legitimating violence in the name of the state. The book draws attention to a century-old narrative pattern that not only underlies the legal category of enemies of the people, but more generally informs interpretations of imperial expansion, protest against structural oppression, and the transformation of institutions as “legitimate” interventions on behalf of civilized society. Schillings traces the Anglo-American interpretive history of the concept, which she sees as crucial to understanding US history, in particular with regard to the frontier, race relations, and the war on terror.
Friday, January 27, 2017
Adam Feldman and Rebecca Gill have posted “Echoes from a Gendered Court: Examining the Justices’ Interactions During Supreme Court Oral Arguments” as a working paper on SSRN. The abstract:
Supreme Court oral arguments are the only scheduled, public opportunities for the Justices and advocates to directly engage in discussions about a case. There are few rules to regulate these conversations, which allow the Justices to interact with attorneys and with each other. Within this unique setting and due to the lack of argument structure combined with the limited time allotted to each argument, the Justices vie for chances to speak, sometimes at the expense of utterances from other Justices. In this article we specifically examine whether gender dictates this interaction among the Justices.
This article shows how gender is an embedded characteristic of the structure of oral argument as we discuss how the Justices’ interactions play into certain gender stereotypes. It focuses on a troubling dynamic within Justice-to-Justice interactions during oral argument – that of interruptions. The article’s analysis shows how male Justices interrupt female Justices at a significant level, while the opposite does not hold true. We then also offer suggestions for how the Court may diminish the presence of these interruptions through institutional reforms. Our findings corroborate certain conversational and power dynamics previously elucidated by sociolinguists, and show that these dynamics are prevalent even within insular and elite environment of the United States Supreme Court.
Sunday, January 22, 2017
NYU Press has published Laura Sjoberg’s Women as Wartime Rapists: Beyond Sensation and Stereotyping. From the description:
Very few women are wartime rapists. Very few women issue commands to commit sexual violence. Very few women play a role in making war plans that feature the intentional sexual violation of other women. This book is about those very few women. Women as Wartime Rapists reveals the stories of female perpetrators of sexual violence and their place in wartime conflict, legal policy, and the punishment of sexual violence. More broadly, Laura Sjoberg asks, what do the actions and perceptions of female perpetrators of sexual violence reveal about our broader conceptions of war, violence, sexual assault, and gender?
This book explores specific historical case studies, such as Nazi Germany, Serbia, the contemporary case of ISIS, and others, to understand how and why women participate in rape during war and conflict. Sjoberg examines the contrast between the visibility of female victims and the invisibility of female perpetrators, as well as the distinction between rape and genocidal rape, which is used as a weapon against a particular ethnic or national group. Further, she explores women’s engagement with genocidal rape and how some orchestrated the ethnic cleansing of entire regions. A provocative approach to a sensationalized topic, Women as Wartime Rapists offers important insights into not only the topic of female perpetrators of wartime sexual violence, but to larger notions of gender and violence with crucial cultural, legal, and political implications.
Saturday, January 21, 2017
Forthcoming from the University of Pennsylvania Press is Stefan Vander Elst’s The Knight, the Cross, and the Song: Crusade Propaganda and Chivalric Literature, 1100-1400. From the description:
The Knight, the Cross, and the Song offers a new perspective on the driving forces of crusading in the period 1100-1400. Although religious devotion has long been identified as the primary motivation of those who took the cross, Stefan Vander Elst argues that it was by no means the only focus of the texts written to convince the warriors of Western Christianity to participate in the holy war. Vander Elst examines how, across three centuries, historiographical works that served as exhortations for the Crusade sought specifically to appeal to aristocratic interests beyond piety. They did so by appropriating the formal and thematic characteristics of literary genres favored by the knightly class, the chansons de geste and chivalric romance. By using the structure, commonplaces, and traditions of chivalric literature, propagandists associated the Crusade with the decidedly secular matters to which arms-bearers were drawn. This allowed them to introduce the mutual obligation between lord and vassal, family honor, the thirst for adventure, and even the desire for women as parallel and complementary motivations for Crusade, making chivalric and literary concerns an indelible part of the ideology and practice of holy war.
Examining English, Latin, French, and German texts, ranging from the twelfth-century Gesta Francorum and Chanson d’Antioche to the fourteenth-century Krônike von Prûzinlant and La Prise d’Alixandre, The Knight, the Cross, and the Song traces the historical development and geographical spread of this innovative use of secular chivalric fiction both to shape the memory and interpretation of past events and to ensure the continuation of the holy war.
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Forthcoming from Stanford University Press is Karen Fang’s Arresting Cinema: Surveillance in Hong Kong Film. From the description:
When Ridley Scott envisioned Blade Runner’s set as “Hong Kong on a bad day,” he nodded to the city’s overcrowding as well as its widespread use of surveillance. But while Scott brought Hong Kong and surveillance into the global film repertoire, the city’s own cinema has remained outside of the global surveillance discussion.
In Arresting Cinema, Karen Fang delivers a unifying account of Hong Kong cinema that draws upon its renowned crime films and other unique genres to demonstrate Hong Kong’s view of surveillance. She argues that Hong Kong’s films display a tolerance of – and even opportunism towards – the soft cage of constant observation, unlike the fearful view prevalent in the West. However, many surveillance cinema studies focus solely on European and Hollywood films, discounting other artistic traditions and industrial circumstances. Hong Kong’s films show a more crowded, increasingly economically stratified, and postnational world that nevertheless offers an aura of hopeful futurity. Only by exploring Hong Kong surveillance film can we begin to shape a truly global understanding of Hitchcock’s “rear window ethics.”
Friday, October 21, 2016
Forthcoming from SUNY Press is Yoav Mehozay’s Between the Rule of Law and States of Emergency: The Fluid Jurisprudence of the Israeli Regime. From the description:
Contemporary debates on states of emergency have focused on whether law can regulate emergency powers, if at all. These studies base their analyses on the premise that law and emergency are at odds with each other. In Between the Rule of Law and States of Emergency, Yoav Mehozay offers a fundamentally different approach, demonstrating that law and emergency are mutually reinforcing paradigms that compensate for each other’s shortcomings. Through a careful dissection of Israel’s emergency apparatus, Mehozay illustrates that the reach of Israel’s emergency regime goes beyond defending the state and its people against acts of terror. In fact, that apparatus has had a far greater impact on Israel’s governing system, and society as a whole, than has traditionally been understood. Mehozay pushes us to think about emergency powers beyond the “war on terror” and consider the role of emergency with regard to realms such as political economy.