About the LJST Department

a crowd retrains a man on a public street
By a vote of its general Faculty in November 1992 Amherst College established the Department of Law, Jurisprudence
& Social Thought (LJST) as its 29th academic department offering an autonomous undergraduate major. Faculty in the Department of Law, Jurisprudence & Social Thought offer courses and a program of study that attend to the distinctive way law combines moral argument, rhetorical practices and force in regulating social life. Expanding upon intellectual categories established by traditional legal education and the social sciences and humanities, those courses and that program of study advance the goals of liberal education.

LJST is consistently one of Amherst's most popular majors, and our courses draw students from across the college.  In addition, LJST has undertaken a variety of activities to advance the study of law in the liberal arts and to foster interdisciplinary legal scholarship.  We have sponsored an annual lecture series on an important theme in legal studies, and have been privileged to host significant scholars from a wide variety of fields.  LJST also regularly sponsors scholarly conferences.  Past conferences have included The Paradoxes of Rights, Brown v. Board of Education at Forty, Capital Punishment in Law, Politics, and Culture, and Law 2000.

"Human Rights" book cover

The department also puts out a series of books published by major presses.   Each volume in this series is based on the lectures and conferences sponsored by LJST, and each includes an essay by a member of our faculty. The first volume, The Fate of Law, was published in 1991; subsequent volumes include Law's Violence (1992), Law in Everyday Life (1993), The Rhetoric of Law (1994), Identities, Politics & Rights (1995); Legal Rights: Historical and Philosophical Perspectives (1996), Justice and Injustice in Law and Legal Theory (1996), Law in the Domains of Culture (1998), History, Memory, and the Law (1999), Cultural Pluralism,

Law's Madness book cover
Identity Politics and the Law (1999), and Human Rights: Concepts, Contests, Contingencies (2001), Lives in the Law (2002), Law's Madness (2003), The Place of Law (2003), Law on the Screen (2005); The Limits of Law (2005), Law and the Sacred (2006), How Law Knows (2006), Law and Catastrophe (2007), Law and the Stranger (2010), Law as Punishment/Law as Regulation (2011), Law Without Nations (2012), The Secrets of Law (2012), Imagining New Legalities (2012), Law and War (2014), Law and the Utopian Imagination (2014), Law’s Mistakes (2016), Criminals and Enemies (2017), Law and Performance (2018), Law and Mourning (2018), Law and Illiberalism (2021), Law and the Visible (2021), and Law’s Infamy (2022).  For further details see The University of Michigan Press, Stanford University Press, and the University of Massachusetts Press.


 For full LJST Program Statement