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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Madison's Hand: Remembering the Constitutional Convention (Thoughts on the History of the Book and the Catholic Intellectual Traditions)

Mary Sarah Bilder, Boston College
Date: Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Time: 12:00 PM - 1:15 PM
Location: Boisi Center, 24 Quincy Road


This talk will be based on ongoing work on Prof. Bilder's new book, Madison's Hand. Madison’s Hand begins with the question: Why did James Madison take notes at the Philadelphia Convention in 1787? Although Madison was not the only note-taker at the Convention, he was the only one to ensure that his detailed record of the Convention would appear in print—as well as when and in what manner. The book will explore the ways in which Madison’s notes and Madison himself mediate the Constitutional Convention and our historic understanding of the Constitution.

headshot of Mary Bilder

Professor Mary Sarah Bilder teaches in the areas of property and American legal and constitutional history at Boston College Law School. She received her B.A. and the Dean’s Prize from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, her J.D. (magna cum laude) from Harvard Law School and her A.M. and Ph.D. from Harvard University in the History of American Civilization. She was a law clerk to the Hon. Francis Murnaghan, Jr., U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit. She writes primarily in the area of constitutionalism and colonial American legal culture. She was the Lucy G. Moses Visiting Professor at Columbia Law School in 2001 and was a visiting professor at Harvard Law School in the spring of 2008.

She is the author of The Transatlantic Constitution: Colonial Legal Culture and the Empire (Harvard University Press, 2004), awarded the Littleton-Griswold Award from the American Historical Association. Her articles appear in The Many Legalities of Early America, The Cambridge History of Law in America, and law reviews, including the Yale Law Journal, the Stanford Law Review, the Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities, and the Hastings Law Journal. She has received the Boston College Annual Prize for Scholarship, a Boston College Distinguished Research Award, a Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities, and is a Boston College Law School Fund Scholar. She currently serves on the Editorial Board of Law and History Review, the Council of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, the Board of Overseers of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Historical Society, and is a member of the American Law Institute.