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Legal History Roundtable

scholarly events

 Mary Bilder Frank Herrmann Jim Rogers Dan Coquillette

In the fall of 2015, the Boston College Law School Legal History Roundtable started its 14th successful year. The Roundtable draws on Boston College Law School’s and Boston College’s strength and interest in legal history. The Roundtable offers an opportunity for Boston College faculty and faculty from other area institutions, students, and members of the Boston College community to meet and discuss a pre-circulated paper in legal history. Meeting several times each semester, the Roundtable seeks to promote an informal, collegial atmosphere of informed discussion.

For the 2015-2016 academic year, Professor Mary Sarah Bilder, Professor Daniel R. Coquillette, Professor Frank Herrmann and Professor James S. Rogers are conveners.

The Roundtable meets in the afternoon at 4:30 in the Library Conference Room of the Boston College Law School Library. Refreshments are available beginning at 4:15 pm.

Papers will be available when appropriate before each presentation. For more information, please contact Patrick Mahoney at (617) 552-4404 or emailing For assistance with parking passes for non-BC faculty, please also contact Mr. Mahoney.

FALL 2015

Thursday, October 15, 2015: Samantha Barbas, Professor, SUNY-Buffalo Law School
“Laws of Image: Privacy and Publicity in America”
(To download intro and chapter 6 excerpt, use bclhroundtable for both username and password)

Samantha Barbas researches and teaches in the areas of legal history, First Amendment law and mass communications law. Her work focuses on the intersection of law, culture, media and technology in United States history. Her recent research has explored the history of the law of privacy and defamation. Barbas holds a Ph.D. in American history from the University of California, Berkeley, and a J.D. from Stanford Law School. She was previously an assistant professor of history at Chapman University, a visiting professor of history at U.C. Berkeley, and a lecturer at Arizona State University. She clerked for Judge Richard Clifton on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Honolulu, Hawaii. Barbas’ work has appeared in several law and history journals, including the Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities, the Rutgers Law Review, and the Columbia Journal of Law and the Arts. Her book on the history of libel and privacy in the 20th century US, The Laws of Image, will be published by Stanford University Press in 2015. Another book, on the history of privacy and freedom of the press, Time v. Hill and America's Search for Privacy, is under contract with Stanford University Press. She is also the author of Movie Crazy: Fans, Stars, and the Cult of Celebrity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2001) and The First Lady of Hollywood (University of California Press, 2005).



February 25, 2016: Mary Beth Basile Chopas, Adjunct Professor, UNC Law School

Mary Beth Basile Chopas is a scholar of military, legal, and 20th-century U.S. history, with a focus on the balancing of national security interests with the protection of civil liberties.  She is an Adjunct Professor of Law at UNC Law School and a Senior Lecturing Fellow at Duke Law School.  Chopas received her PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, her JD at Boston College Law School, and her BA from Dartmouth College.  After law school, Chopas served as a law clerk at the New Hampshire Supreme Court.  She then worked in private practice in Boston where she focused on commercial litigation.  She served as an assistant attorney general in the Government Bureau/Trial Division of the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General, specializing in employment discrimination and contract disputes.  After practicing law, Chopas began her teaching career at Harvard Law School where she was a Climenko-Thayer Lecturer on Law, and later went on to teach Civil Procedure and Legal Ethics at Boston University School of Law and Temple University Beasley School of Law before going to UNC Law School.  Chopas’ scholarship has appeared in several journals, including Cardozo Law Review, the Journal of Legal Education, and the Harvard Journal of Law & Gender.  She is a co-author of Lex Mercatoria and Legal Pluralism:  A Late Thirteenth-Century Treatise and its Afterlife, a publication of the Harvard Law School Ames Foundation.

Description of Talk

This project provides the first legal analysis of the selective internment process during World War II using Italian civilian internees as the case study.  It explores how the U.S. executive branch and administrative agencies responded to perceived threats during war, how “justice” works during times of crisis, and how the federal government defined race and immigrant status and its impact on eligibility for citizenship during wartime.


Previous presenters include:

Professor John Fabian Witt, Yale Law School

Professor Daniel J. Sharfstein, Vanderbilt Law School
Professor Stewart Jay, University of Washington School of Law
Elizabeth Papp Kamali, Assistant Professor, Harvard Law School Ph.D. candidate

Professor Tomiko Brown-Nagin, Harvard Law School
Brad Snyder, Professor of Law at University of Wisconsin
Robert Gordon, Professor, Stanford Law School
Peter Pihos, dissertation completion fellow at Penn's School of Arts and Sciences
Daniel Klerman, Professor of Law at USC Law School
Annette Gordon-Reed, Professor of Law and History at Harvard University
Emily Kadens, Baker and Botts Professor in Law at the University of Texas Austin
Sir John Baker, St. Catharine’s College, University of Cambridge
Anne Fleming, Climenko Fellow and Lecturer on Law, Harvard Law School
Michael Hoeflich, John H. & John M. Kane Professor of Law, University of Kansas
Pauline R. Maier, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of History, MIT
Jack Rakove, William Robertson Co Professor of History and American Studies, Stanford Law School
Gerard N. Magliocca
, Professor of Law, Indiana University School of Law—Indianapolis
Hon. Margaret H. Marshall
Aniceto Masferrer, Professor of Legal History, University of Valencia and President, the Society for Comparative Legal History' (ESCLH)
Kristen Stilt, Northwestern University Law School
Abigail Chandler, University of Massachusetts-Lowell
Hendrick Hartog, 
Class of 1921 Bicentennial Professor of the History of American Law and Liberty of Princeton University
Jedidiah Kroncke, 
Raoul Berger-Mark DeWolfe Howe Fellow, Harvard Law School
Intisar Rabb,
 Professor, Boston College Law School
Professor Kif Augustine-Adams, J. Reuben Clark Law School, BYU

Professor Bernard Bailyn, Harvard University
Karen Beck, Curator of Rare Books, Boston College Law School
Professor Warren Billings, Distinguished Professor of History, Emeritus, University of New Orleans History Department
Professor Barbara Black, Columbia Law School
Professor Susanna Blumenthal, University of Michigan Law School
Professor Emeritus Morris Cohen, Yale University Law School
Professor Kristin Collins, Boston University Law School
Professor Cornelia Dayton, University of Connecticut History Department
Professor Christine Desan, Harvard Law School
Professor Charles Donahue, Harvard Law School
Professor Mary Dudziak, Judge Edward J. and Ruey L. Guirado Professor of Law, History and Political Science, University of Southern California
Professor William B. Gould IV, Stanford University Law School
Professor Ariela Gross, University of Southern California Law School
Professor Paul Halliday, University of Virginia History Department
Professor Richard Helmholz, University of Chicago Law School
Professor Francis R. Herrmann, S.J., Boston College Law School
Professor Marilynn Johnson, Boston College History Department
Professor Bernie D. Jones, Suffolk University Law School
Professor Carolyn Jones, University of Iowa Law School

Professor Laura Kalman, University of California, Santa Barbara
Professor Linda Kerber, University of Iowa History Department
Professor Ken Kersch, Director of the Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy, Boston College
Professor Marjorie Kornhauser, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, Arizona State University
Professor Pnina Lahav, Boston University School of Law
Professor Kenneth Mack, Harvard Law School
Professor Joyce Malcolm, Bentley College History Department
Professor Ray Madoff, Professor of Law, Boston College Law School
Dr. Maeva Marcus, Editor of the Documentary History of the Supreme Court
Professor Jennifer Mnookin, University of Virginia Law School
Professor William Nancarrow, Curry College History Department (former Ph.D. candidate at Boston College)
Professor James Oldham, Georgetown University Law Center
Professor Ileana Porras, Visiting Professor at Boston College Law School
Professor James Rogers, Boston College Law School
Professor David Seipp, Boston University Law School
Professor Jed Shugerman, Harvard Law School
Mr. Anthony Taussig, London
Dean William Treanor, Fordham University Law School
Professor Russell Versteeg, New England School of Law
Dr. Michael von der Linn, Antiquarian Book Department, Law Book Exchange
Professor Robert Williams, University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law
Professor Michael Wilrich, Brandeis University History Departmen