IALS hosted another successful WG Hart workshop on 26-27 June 2024. This year, the theme of the workshop was ‘Historicising Jurisprudence: Person, Community, Form’. The intention was to generate a conversation about the historiography of jurisprudence and connect legal scholars working in the field with scholars interested in legal thought in fields ranging from literary and art history, history of religion, the history of political thought, and historical sociology. An important aim of the event was to support and encourage doctoral and early career scholars, and to give them an opportunity to present their work in front of an interdisciplinary audience. With that in mind, travel bursaries were made available, and an early career researcher paper prize was organised (generously sponsored by Cambridge University Press). The workshop was directed by Professor Maks Del Mar (Queen Mary) and Professor Michael Lobban (All Souls, Oxford), with financial support from IALS, Queen Mary, and All Souls.

The workshop had 4 keynotes and 31 speakers in 12 parallel sessions. The keynotes were by Paul Halliday, Lorna Hutson, Lena Salaymeh, and David Armitage. They ranged from discussing new work on the history of paper and the materiality of jurisprudence, the importance of fiction as a source of insight about legal reality, the entangled histories of jurisprudence and religion and contested conceptions of the latter, all the way to the relationship between the law of diplomatic immunity and opera. As one of the keynotes put it, jurisprudence could be found in unlikely places – and this was certainly the case, not only in the keynotes, but also in the wide-ranging papers in the parallel sessions. Speakers covered both a wide historical and geographical range – from medieval anonymous authors through to neglected figures in twentieth century Latin America. There were presentations on the Devil as a jurisprudential figure, on the petitions of women in the global south as jurisprudential sources, on Frankenstein as a jurisprudential text, on Ottoman fatwas and witchcraft trials, on the Godzilla movies and the visual history of the Indian constitution, on Wagner and on Titian, on queer jurisprudes, and on jurisprudes in a wide range of different imperial contexts. The sheer variety was one of the highlights and demonstrated just how open and exciting a field the history of jurisprudence could be.

An important part of the task of the academic directors was to judge the early career researcher paper prize. This was open to anyone within 5 years of their doctorate and required an 8000 word paper being submitted a month before the workshop. The standard of entries was incredibly high, and it was enormously difficult to pick a winner. In the end, Clemens Boehncke, from the Hamburg Institute for Social Research, won the prize (photo below), with his paper entitled ‘Shaping a Market, Fashioning the Law: The Career of the Law Publisher Otto Liebmann in the Years Between 1890 and 1933’. The paper was highly historiographically innovative, treating the figure of the publisher as an active agent in the making of jurisprudence, situating them contextually in the period of Weimar republic when there was an intense discussion of the role of judges in the Weimar constitution, and telling the fascinating story of the publisher’s commissioning of a series of novels written by jurists. The paper thereby offered an exemplary engagement with the theme of the conference, historicising jurisprudence by reference to person, community, and form. 

Clemens Boehncke, with the Academic Directors, Maks Del Mar and Michael Lobban
The winner of the early career paper prize, Clemens Boehncke, with the Academic Directors, Maks Del Mar and Michael Lobban