Monday, November 7, 2011

tomlins and uci law - changes in the air

Christopher Tomlins, who recently left his position at the American Bar Association to join the faculty at the newly created UC Irvine law school, is taking some important steps there toward making the study of law more interdisciplinary:

A good quote from the article:

[Tomlins] plans to have common colloquia, luncheon workshops, social functions and retreats so that students and faculty from different disciplines can swap perspectives. 
“It will create a sense of interdisciplinary community and tie the law school into the rest of the campus,” Tomlins says. “Irvine is an especially appropriate place for such a program because there’s already an unusually large concentration of faculty outside the law school doing law-related work.” 
The Program in Law & Graduate Studies, he says, is ideal for students interested in professional or academic careers involving law and legal institutions, policy analysis or applied research in law-related fields. These include criminal justice and criminology, urban planning and environmental issues, discrimination, human rights and intellectual property.

Tomlins, who is currently one of the most influential researchers of colonial and early American legal history, recently finished a mammoth book on law, labor and the shaping of civic identity in early America entitled Freedom Bound. It came out in 2010 via Cambridge Press and it is a masterpiece.

Even though Tomlins' work is still essentially legal history, where the evolutionary mechanisms behind rules takes center-stage, some of his latter works have dipped into the intersections of law and the literary mind (including research into the works of Walter Benjamin) and his overall approach to the law is basically Althusserian -- that is, studying the internal mechanisms of law as relatively autonomous from a materialist (feudal/capitalist) base. He is truly an excellent match for taking on such an interesting task at UCI.

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