Freedom Bound: Law & the Colonizing of British North America

Christopher Tomlins, University of California Irvine

Thu, 05/05/2011
4:30 PM, Lewis Library 138

Professor Kim Lane Scheppele and the Program in Law and Public Affairs invite you to join us Thursday, May 5th, at 4:30 p.m., for a Book Forum on Freedom Bound: Law, Labor, and Civic Identity in Colonizing English America 1580-1865 (Cambridge University Press 2010), winner of the 2011 Bancroft Prize for Best Book in the subject of American History.  Author Christopher Tomlins will be joined by a panel of distinguished scholars to talk about the book, and copies will be available for purchase.

Christopher Tomlins is Chancellor’s Professor of Law at the University of California Irvine, where he also has appointments in History, English, and Criminology, Law & Society. He is also Research Professor Emeritus at the American Bar Foundation, Chicago, where he worked from 1992-2009. Before joining the American Bar Foundation in 1992, Tomlins was Reader in Legal Studies at La Trobe University, Melbourne (Australia), where he taught from 1980 until 1992. He has a Ph.D. in History from Johns Hopkins (1981), and Masters’ Degrees from Oxford University (Politics, Philosophy, and Economics) the University of Sussex (American Studies) and The Johns Hopkins University (History). Tomlins is primarily a legal historian whose interests and research are cast very broadly – from sixteenth century England to twentieth century America; from the legal culture of work and labor to the interrelations of law and literature; from the jurisprudence of Francisco de Vitoria of Salamanca to the historical materialism of Walter Benjamin. His books include The State and the Unions: Labor Relations, Law and the Organized Labor Movement in America, 1880-1960 (1985); Law, Labor and Ideology in the Early American Republic (1992); and most recently Freedom Bound: Law, Labor and Civic Identity in Colonizing English America, 1580-1865 (2010). Tomlins also co-edited (with Michael Grossberg) the multi-volume Cambridge History of Law in America (2008) and (with Bruce H. Mann) The Many Legalities of Early America (2000). 

Linda Colley, the Shelby M.C. Davis 1958 Professor of History, Princeton University, is an expert on Britain since 1700. She favors cross-disciplinary history, and in both her writing and her teaching she examines Britain’s past in a broader European, imperial, and global context. She graduated from Bristol University with First Class Honors in history (1972) and completed her Ph.D. in history at Cambridge University (1977). The first female Fellow of Christ’s College, Cambridge, Colley moved to Yale University in 1982. Her first book, In Defiance of Oligarchy: The Tory Party 1714-1760 (1982), challenged the dominant view by arguing that the Tory party remained active and potent during its years out of power, exploring the wider consequences of this in regards to ideas, electoral and popular politics and political action. Britons: Forging the Nation 1707-1837 (1992), which won the Wolfson Prize for History, investigated how - and how far - the inhabitants of England, Scotland, and Wales came to see themselves as British over the course of the 18th and early 19th centuries. In 1998, Colley left Yale to accept a Senior Leverhulme Research Professorship in History at the London School of Economics. Supported by this award, she spent the next five years researching the experiences of the thousands of Britons who were taken captive in North America, South Asia, and the Mediterranean and North Africa between 1600 and 1850 as the British Empire expanded. In 1999, she was elected a Fellow of the British Academy. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Academia Europaea. In 2009, she was awarded a C.B.E. Colley joined the Princeton History Department in 2003. She regularly teaches undergraduate survey lecture courses on Britain from 1688-1945. She has also taught undergraduate seminars on travel and travel narratives, and on life writing and writing lives from the 17th century to the present. Colley heads a two-semester graduate seminar on British history in a global perspective from c. 1700-c. 1960, and has taught a graduate seminar on British and American empire.

Rachel St. John is a Davis Center for Historical Studies Fellow, Princeton University 2010-2011; Member, School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study 2010-2011; and Associate Professor of History, Harvard University. St. John’s research focuses on 19th-  and 20th- century North American history with a particular emphasis on state-formation and nation-building.  She teaches courses in 19th -century United States history, transnational borderlands history, environmental history, and the history of the U.S. West.  Her first book, Line in the Sand: A History of the Western U.S.-Mexico Border, will be published by Princeton University Press this summer. She is currently working on a new book which will explore the diverse range of nation-building projects that emerged throughout North America in the 19th century.  

Steven Wilf, 2010-2011 Microsoft/LAPA Fellow in Law, Property and the Economic Organization of Society, is the Joel Barlow Professor of Law at the University of Connecticut, where he was one of the founders of the Intellectual Property Program. He received both his Ph.D. in History from Yale University and his law degree from Yale Law School in 1995. Wilf served as a law clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit before joining the Connecticut faculty. A scholar whose research focuses upon intellectual property law, historical jurisprudence, and legal history, he seeks to explore the fundamental ways that the origins of legal processes effect normative outcomes. Numerous essays and a recent book, The Law Before the Law (Rowman & Littlefield, 2008), explore imaginative, often extra-official understandings of legalism. His latest book, Law’s Imagined Republic: Popular Politics and Criminal Justice in Revolutionary America, will be published this year by Cambridge University Press. Wilf has been a visiting professor at Hebrew University, Jerusalem and DAAD guest professor at the Freie Universitat, Berlin. He also has held fellowships as John Carter Brown Fellow at Brown University, Fellow in Comparative Legal History at the University of Chicago, Samuel Golieb Fellow at the New York University Law School, and, most recently, Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem. At Princeton, Wilf will continue his current work on a book, examining the history of United States intellectual property law from its beginnings to the present.