The Postmodern Infiltration of Legal Scholarship


For legal scholars it is the best of times. We are inundated by an eclectic range of writing that pushes the envelope from analysis and synthesis to the upper reaches of theory. Mainstream topics face fierce competition from fresh ideological visions, a variety of genres, and spirited criticism of the status quo. Young professors have access to a burgeoning variety of journals to circulate their ideas and advice while the mass media covets them as public intellectuals. There is a less sanguine mood; an increasingly vocal group of scholars complain that it is the worst of times and refer to the above paragraph as a proffer of proof. Eclecticism translates to postmodern relativism in law review drama that compares, unfavorably, male aloofness with the female nurturing instincts of emotional logic or presents highly charged agony experiences about birthing trauma. Yale publishes photography as art-commentary and ramblings on popular culture. Law professors as storytellers use stream of consciousness to circulate autobiographical tales of the racism and sexism of the callous, liberal, white male hierarchy. Instead of problem solving or providing counsel to judges and practitioners, law professors write for the approval of their new peers in the humanities. Professors Kahn and White reside in the last category. Ignoring the fracas and obsessed with self, professors gleefully keep churning out the unconnected fluff and more journals surface to absorb it, while critics seethe with frustration. Criticism has been enriched with two new insights - and challenges. James Boyd White of Michigan Law School seeks salvation in the use of the literary imagination to transform and elevate our vision of law. Paul W. Kahn of Yale Law School proffers an even more dramatic solution: stop the presses - scholar heal thyself

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