"It is a strange world and every part of the past that you happen to jump into is radically different from the times that we inhabit now. It's one of the most important things to understand about any historical inquiry [...] At the same time, even as you acknowledge the radical difference of the past, you can sometimes see things that are coming into being that are recognizable and that are only going to become more recognizable as time goes on. The issue of jurisprudence provides some elements that are going to strike modern students as extremely unfamiliar. You have to work to get your mind around them. On the other hand, the notion that you don't need to depend on some signal from god to render a verdict on guilt or innocence or justice in a court is a modern thought. You begin to see that people are understanding that 'we can do this ourselves and should."

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About the interviewer

Martha M. Umphrey, professor of law, jurisprudence and social thought
Martha Merrill Umphrey is a Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought. A member of the Amherst faculty since 1994, she currently serves on the Committee of Six. Professor Umphrey received her B.A., J.D. and Ph.D. in American Culture from the University of Michigan. Her research and teaching address the interaction of law and culture, historically and theoretically, with particular emphases on the cultural life of trials; on the relations among law, culture, and social identity; on cultural representations of law in film and literature; on American constitutional and criminal law in historical context; and on law and love.