I just received the following message--very much in the spirit of some of our members--about the 47th International Congress on Medieval Studies:
I'm running a panel on legal history at the 47th International Congress on Medieval Studies, May 10-13, 2012, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The title of the panel is Law as Culture: Legal Development and Social Change. The general call for papers is here( http://www.wmich.edu/medieval/Assets/pdf/congress/CallForPapers2012.pdf).
The Law as Culture series has been going on at Kalamazoo most years since 1994, sponsored much of the time (including this time) by the Selden Society; for the last couple of years, I've been co-organizing these panels with medieval historian Paul Hyams of Cornell. Here are a few paragraphs I wrote about it; the last paragraph has been recycled from earlier CFPs:
Law was an important part of medieval culture, just as in modern culture.
High and low people alike regularly attended some court or other - serfs attended their lord's court while barons attended the royal court - and rates of litigation (for instance in medieval England) were surprisingly high (by modern standards). Feudalism, an important medieval institution, was largely (though not exclusively) a set of legal rules, and disputes over the overlapping jurisdictions of secular and ecclesiastical courts played a large role in the evolution of church-state relations. The legal system shaped medieval society just as it was shaped by it. The historian of medieval law must study social, economic, and cultural history, but the historian of medieval society, economy, and culture must also study the law.
This panel, therefore, will explore the intersection among law, economics, and culture in the context of the evolution of medieval European law.
This session is part of a series of panels under the general title of "Law as Culture in the Middle Ages" that ran first from 1994 to 2003, and was revived in 2010. The Anglo-American Selden Society has stood sponsor for much of this time. The series has succeeded in bringing together literary scholars, lawyers and historians in the special atmosphere of Kalamazoo and to their mutual benefit, to consider the contributions, good and bad, which Law made to the culture of the Middle Ages. Papers have been presented by scholars of the two learned laws (canon and Roman), of secular laws (especially the Anglo-American Common Law), and of vernacular literatures (especially Old French, Old and Middle English). They have drawn enthusiastic audiences that have filled and on occasion overflowed from the rooms allotted them. We have been able to offer a hearing to young scholars alongside some very well known ones.
For this panel, I welcome any papers on medieval legal history.
English legal history is welcome; so is Continental legal history, canon law, or any other tradition practiced in the medieval West, e.g. Jewish or Islamic law.
The concept of "medieval" at Kalamazoo tends to be fairly broad, so you often find papers dealing with late Antiquity on one end, and the Renaissance on the other.
Especially, as the title "Law as Culture" hints, papers are encouraged that draw connections between law and other fields, especially in the humanities or economics (though doctrinal legal papers are also fine).
Those who are interested should send me an abstract at volokh at post dot harvard dot edu by September 15, 2011.
- Sasha Volokh, Emory Law School