LJST and Interdisciplinary Legal Scholarship

By a vote of its general Faculty in November, 1992 Amherst College established the Department of Law, Jurisprudence & Social Thought (LJST)Old image 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.

The Department evolved through a process of curricular development initiated in 1985, conducted first in an experimental program called Law and the Social Order, and subsequently in LJST. From September, 1990 to September, 1993 LJST was offered as a "program without a major." The development of LJST was supported by grants from the Mellon, Keck, and Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. Today LJST has more than 70 majors, making it the fifth among Amherst 's departments in number of majors, and during the last academic year almost 700 students enrolled in its courses, making it first among Amherst 's academic departments in its per capita student-faculty ratio.

LJST has undertaken a variety of activities to advance the study of law in the liberal arts and to foster interdisciplinary legal scholarship. For more than a decade we have sponsored an annual lecture series on an important theme in legal studies. We have been privileged to host such Previous holders of the lectureship which have included Homi Bhabha (English-Harvard University), Martha Minow (Law-Harvard), Barbara Johnson (English-Harvard), Carol Greenhouse (Anthropology-Princeton), Michael Taussig (Anthropology-Columbia), James Boyd White (English and Law-Michigan), Patricia Williams (Law-Columbia), Nancy Cott (History-Yale), Carol Clover (Rhetoric-Berkeley), Robert Gordon (Law-Yale), Elaine Scarry (English-Harvard), William Connolly (Political Science-Johns Hopkins), Peter Fitzpatrick (Law-Birkbeck College), Iris Marion Young (Political Science-Chicago), Soshana Felman (Comparative Literature-Yale), Peter Brooks (English-Yale), Jonathan Simon (Law-Miami), and Dominic LaCapra (Humanities-Cornell).

In addition, LJST 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. During 2001-02 the Department will sponsor conferences on Dissent in Dangerous Times and Legal Scholarship in the Liberal Arts.

The department also puts out a series of books - published for many years by the University of Michigan Press.Human Rights BookBeginning in 2005, the Amherst Series in Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought will be published by Stanford University Press. Each of the books 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'sLaw's Madness Book 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, Identity Politics and the Law (1999), and Human Rights: Concepts, Contests, Contingencies (2001). Other volumes now scheduled for publication include, Lives in the Law (2002), Law's Madness (2003), The Place of Law (2003) and Law on the Screen (2005). For further details see The University of Michigan Press and Stanford University Press.


For full LJST Program Statement