Submitted by Patricia M. Allen

January 2, 2008
Contact: Emanuel Costache '09
Media Relations Intern

Caroline Jenkins Hanna
Director of Media Relations


AMHERST, Mass.—Amherst College faculty members Austin Sarat, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science and Five College Fortieth Anniversary Professor; Lawrence Douglas, the James J. Grosfeld Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought; and Martha Merrill Umphrey, associate professor of law, jurisprudence and social thought, are the editors of Law and Catastrophe ($45, 184 pp., Stanford University Press, 2007), a collection of essays that describe law’s role in the definition, identification, prevention and amelioration of catastrophe. The new book is part of The Amherst Series in Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought.

Anthony J. Sebok, Centennial Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School, praised the book, saying, “Law and Catastrophe offers a diverse and fascinating set of essays. There has never been a more urgent need for such a work on catastrophe and law.” James R. Martel, associate professor of political science at San Francisco State University, was likewise enthusiastic: “This book is a must-read for any scholar interested in seeing the performance of law when its veneer of total control and stability have been stripped away.”

Sarat, who has taught at Amherst since 1974, is author, co-author or editor of more than 50 books, including Mercy on Trial (2005), When the State Kills (2001) and Law, Violence and the Possibility of Justice (2001). He is co-author of Something to Believe In: Politics, Professionalism and Cause Lawyering (2004) and co-editor of Law on the Screen (2005), also with Douglas and Umphrey. Winner of the James Boyd White Prize by the Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities and the co-recipient of the 2004 Reginald Heber Smith Award, Sarat has also served as president of the Law and Society Association and of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities.

Douglas is author of the acclaimed book The Memory of Judgment: Making Law and History in the Trials of the Holocaust (2001). His current book project, Reflections on the Glass Booth: A Jurisprudence of Atrocity, will be published by Princeton University Press. His essays and commentary have appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and The Times Literary Supplement.

A member of the Amherst faculty since 1993, Umphrey is currently completing a book on criminal responsibility in the Gilded Age trials of Harry K. Thaw and editing an anthology, Trials, for the International Library of Essays in Law and Society. She has also, with Sarat and Douglas, co-edited Lives in the Law (2002), Law’s Madness (2003) and The Place of Law (2003), previous volumes in The Amherst Series in Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought.