Category Archives: Recent Publications

The Old English Penitentials and Anglo-Saxon Law

Stefan Jurasinski.

April 2015. Order online via Cambridge University Press or Amazon.

In this book, Stefan Jurasinski offers a rich new insight into the nature of law and society in Anglo-Saxon England through a close study of penitential texts, written in the vernacular for priestly use. As these texts bear witness, Anglo-Saxon England’s code of norms was more complex than has often been assumed by historians who have only made use of the legislative codes of Anglo-Saxon kings. The vernacular penitentials gave expression to norms that were not voiced by royal legislation but which must have enjoyed the status of customary law. Jurasinski’s close examination of the content of these texts across a number of chapters offers us new insight into the nature of Anglo-Saxon norms in such diverse areas as slavery, marriage and welfare. It also gives greater insight in to Anglo-Saxon notions of intention and guilt than is to be found in the secular texts.

Law and Identity in Colonial South Asia: Parsi Legal Culture 1772-1947

Mitra Sharafi.

March 2014. Order online through The Cambridge University Press or Amazon. ISBN: 9781107047976.

This book explores the legal culture of the Parsis, or Zoroastrians, an ethnoreligious community unusually invested in the colonial legal system of British India and Burma. Rather than trying to maintain collective autonomy and integrity by avoiding interaction with the state, the Parsis sank deep into the colonial legal system itself. From the late eighteenth century until India’s independence in 1947, they became heavy users of colonial law, acting as lawyers, judges, litigants, lobbyists, and legislators. They de-Anglicized the law that governed them and enshrined in law their own distinctive models of the family and community
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The Fascists and the Jews of Italy: Mussolini’s Race Laws, 1938-1943

Michael A. Livingston.

December 2013. Order online through Cambridge University Press or Amazon. ISBN: 9781107027565.

From 1938 until 1943 – before the German occupation and accompanying Holocaust – Fascist Italy drafted and enforced a comprehensive set of anti-Semitic laws. Notwithstanding later rationalizations, the laws were enforced and administered with a high degree of severity and resulted in serious, and in some cases permanent, damage to the Italian Jewish community. Written from the perspective of an American legal scholar, this book constitutes the first truly comprehensive survey of the Race Laws in the English language. Based on an exhaustive review of Italian legal, administrative, and judicial sources, together with archives of the Italian Jewish community, Professor Michael A. Livingston demonstrates the zeal but also the occasional ambivalence and contradictions with which the Race Laws were applied and assimilated by the Italian legal order and ordinary citizens. Read more

Before Eminent Domain: Toward a History of Expropriation of Land for the Common Good

Susan Reynolds.

Published 2010. Order online through The University of North Carolina Press or Amazon. ISBN: 978-0-8078-3353-7.

In this concise history of expropriation of land for the common good in Europe and North America from medieval times to 1800, Susan Reynolds contextualizes the history of an important legal doctrine regarding the relationship between government and the institution of private property. Before Eminent Domain concentrates on western Europe and the English colonies in America. As Reynolds argues, expropriation was a common legal practice in many societies in which individuals had rights to land. It was generally accepted that land could be taken from them, with compensation, when the community, however defined, needed it. She cites examples of the practice since the early Middle Ages in England, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, and from the seventeenth century in America. Reynolds concludes with a discussion of past and present ideas and assumptions about community, individual rights, and individual property that underlie the practice of expropriation but have been largely ignored by historians of both political and legal thought.Read more

Juries and the Transformation of Criminal Justice in France in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

James M. Donovan.

Published 2010. Order online through The University of North Carolina Press or Amazon. ISBN: 978-0-8078-3363-6.

James Donovan takes a comprehensive approach to the history of the jury in modern France by investigating the legal, political, sociocultural, and intellectual aspects of jury trial from the Revolution through the twentieth century. He demonstrates that these juries, through their decisions, helped shape reform of the nation’s criminal justice system. From their introduction in 1791 as an expression of the sovereignty of the people through the early 1900s, argues Donovan, juries often acted against the wishes of the political and judicial authorities, despite repeated governmental attempts to manipulate their composition. High acquittal rates for both political and nonpolitical crimes were in part due to juror resistance to the harsh and rigid punishments imposed by the Napoleonic Penal Code, Donovan explains. In response, legislators gradually enacted laws to lower penalties for certain crimes and to give jurors legal means to offer nuanced verdicts and to ameliorate punishments. Faced with persistently high acquittal rates, however, governments eventually took powers away from juries by withdrawing many cases from their purview and ultimately destroying the panels’ independence in 1941.
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Domestic Secrets: Women and Property in Sweden, 1600-1857

Maria Ågren.

Published 2009. Order online through The University of North Carolina Press or Amazon. ISBN: 978-0-8078-3320-9.

Between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, women’s role in the Swedish economy was renegotiated and reconceptualized. Maria Agren chronicles changes in married women’s property rights, revealing the story of Swedish women’s property as not just a simple narrative of the erosion of legal rights, but a more complex tale of unintended consequences. A public sphere of influence–including the wife’s family and the local community–held sway over spousal property rights throughout most of the seventeenth century, Agren argues. Around 1700, a campaign to codify spousal property rights as an arcanum domesticum, or domestic secret, aimed to increase efficiency in legal decision making. New regulatory changes indeed reduced familial interference, but they also made families less likely to give land to women. The advent of the print medium ushered property issues back into the public sphere, this time on a national scale, Agren explains. Mass politicization increased sympathy for women, and public debate popularized more progressive ideas about the economic contributions of women to marriage, leading to mid-nineteenth-century legal reforms that were more favorable to women. Agren’s work enhances our understanding of how societies have conceived of womens contributions to the fundamental institutions of marriage and the family, using as an example a country with far-reaching influence during and after the Enlightenment.Read more

Working Knowledge: Employee Innovation and the Rise of Corporate Intellectual Property, 1800-1930

Catherine L. Fisk.

Published 2009. Order online through The University of North Carolina Press or Amazon. ISBN: 978-0-8078-3302-5.

Skilled workers of the early nineteenth century enjoyed a degree of professional independence because workplace knowledge and technical skill were their “property,” or at least their attribute. In most sectors of today’s economy, however, it is a foundational and widely accepted truth that businesses retain legal ownership of employee-generated intellectual property. In Working Knowledge, Catherine Fisk chronicles the legal and social transformations that led to the transfer of ownership of employee innovation from labor to management. This deeply contested development was won at the expense of workers’ entrepreneurial independence and ultimately, Fisk argues, economic democracy. By reviewing judicial decisions and legal scholarship on all aspects of employee-generated intellectual property and combing the archives of major nineteenth-century intellectual property-producing companies–including DuPont, Rand McNally, and the American Tobacco Company–Fisk makes a highly technical area of law accessible to general readers while also addressing scholarly deficiencies in the histories of labor, intellectual property, and the business of technology.Read more

Catalonia’s Advocates: Lawyers, Society, and Politics in Barcelona, 1759-1900

Stephen Jacobson.

Published 2009. Order online through The University of North Carolina Press or Amazon. ISBN: 978-0-8078-3297-4.

Offering a window into the history of the modern legal profession in Western Europe, Stephen Jacobson presents a history of lawyers in the most industrialized city on the Mediterranean. Far from being mere curators of static law, Barcelona’s lawyers were at the center of social conflict and political and economic change, mediating between state, family, and society. Beginning with the resurrection of a decadent bar during the Enlightenment, Jacobson traces the historical evolution of lawyers throughout the long nineteenth century. Among the issues he explores are the attributes of the modern legal profession, how lawyers engaged with the Enlightenment, how they molded events in the Age of Revolution and helped consolidate a liberal constitutional order, why a liberal profession became conservative and corporatist, and how lawyers promoted fin-de-siècle nationalism. From the vantage point of a city with a distinguished legal tradition, Catalonia’s Advocates provides fresh insight into European social and legal history; the origins of liberal professionalism; education, training, and the practice of law in the nineteenth century; the expansion of continental bureaucracies; and the corporatist aspects of modern nationalism.Read more

The Inception of Modern Professional Education: C. C. Langdell, 1826-1906

Bruce A. Kimball.

Published 2009. Order online through The University of North Carolina Press or Amazon. ISBN: 978-0-8078-3257-8.

Christopher C. Langdell (1826-1906) is one of the most influential figures in the history of American professional education. As dean of Harvard Law School from 1870 to 1895, he conceived, designed, and built the educational model that leading professional schools in virtually all fields subsequently emulated. In this first full-length biography of the educator and jurist, Bruce Kimball explores Langdell’s controversial role in modern professional education and in jurisprudence.Read more