Judith Resnik


Austin Sarat reminds us that law is part of "The Humanities" and that the study of law could be situated appropriately in a liberal arts college committed to the humanities. Yet given that law is humanities, it is poignant to consider how marginal the study of humanities is to law schools, which constitute one venue (but not the only, as Austin Sarat explains) in which law is taught.

A word of definition is needed. In his discussion here, Austin Sarat implicitly equates humanities with literary or critical studies and history, rather than a wider range of disciplines that embraces the social sciences. Given that Austin Sarat's own scholarship includes some of the most significant essays giving insights into law through social science methodology, I know his definitions are broader. But I will assume his focus and leave the debate about the category to another time. The more limited framing intersects with two of my own interests, for I teach and write about issues bearing the titles of "Law and Literature" and "Feminist Theories in Law." Each of these enterprises fits the point of marginality: Each sits in a corner of the curriculum of law schools, rather than occupying a space assumed to be the core.

Two brief empirical forays make this point, one anecdotal and the other quantitative. Last year I taught the course Feminist Theories in Law at another law school, where I was visiting. That school lists courses for registration under headings such as "Constitutional Law" and "Commercial Law." I looked under the heading "Jurisprudence, History, Ethics" and found courses such as "Critical Race Theory" and "Legal History." Not finding the class I planned to teach there, I called the registrar's office to point out the oversight. I was instructed that I had looked in the wrong place. Feminist Theories in Law could be found in the course listing-under the heading "Family Law."