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Histories of Legal Scholars: the power of possibility

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 19:04 authored by Susan BartieSusan Bartie
This paper makes two claims. First, it claims that there are various trends within academic law that discourage legal scholars from learning about their predecessors. These trends are explained. Secondly, it claims that there are a number of benefits which could flow from addressing this neglect. Several of these benefits have been acknowledged elsewhere. For example, some scholars maintain that ideas are best treated historically before being dealt with analytically. The more scholars read whole bodies of their predecessors’ works, the better their interpretations and understandings of such works become, thus strengthening the intellectual integrity of the discipline. While agreeing with this argument, the purpose of the second section of this paper is to articulate other, perhaps less obvious, benefits. It is argued that by learning about a wider range of past academic endeavour, legal scholars are encouraged to challenge existing notions of academic standing and consider not only what the legal academy has become but also what it ought to be. Learning about scholarly predecessors could help scholars better contextualise current challenges. Such learning could be empowering in the context of a discipline whose scholarly practices have meant that there has been little reason to look to the past.


Publication title

Legal Studies








Faculty of Law


Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Place of publication


Rights statement

Copyright 2013 The Author, Legal Studies, The Society of Legal Scholars

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Justice and the law not elsewhere classified

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