Hurst Summer Institute in Legal History, June 4-17, 2017, USA

Publish Date: Sep 16, 2016

Deadline: Dec 01, 2016

Event Dates: from Jun 04, 2017 12:00 to Jun 17, 2017 12:00

General Information

The J. Willard Hurst Summer Institute in Legal History is a biennial event sponsored by the Institute for Legal Studies in conjunction with the American Society for Legal History (ASLH). Each Hurst Institute is organized and chaired by a well-known legal historian and includes visiting senior scholars who lead specialized sessions.

For each Institute, a committee appointed by the ASLH reviews applications from beginning faculty members, doctoral students with completed or almost completed dissertations, and recent J.D. graduates, and selects 12 junior scholars from around the world as Institute Fellows. (The person who serves as the Hurst program chair does not serve on the selection committee.) The Fellows come to Madison for two weeks to participate in seminars, meet other legal historians, and discuss their own work. The two-week program is structured but informal, and features discussions of core readings in legal history and analysis of the work of the participants in the Institute.


The American Society for Legal History and the Institute for Legal Studies at the University of Wisconsin Law School are pleased to invite applications for the ninth biennial Hurst Summer Institute in Legal History. The purpose of the Hurst Institute is to advance the approach to legal scholarship fostered by J. Willard Hurst in his teaching, mentoring, and scholarship. The “Hurstian perspective” emphasizes the importance of understanding law in context; it is less concerned with the characteristics of law as developed by formal legal institutions than with the way in which positive law manifests itself as “law in action.” The Hurst Institute assists scholars from law, history, and other disciplines in pursuing research on legal history of any part of the world.

The 2017 Hurst Institute will be chaired by Mitra Sharafi, Associate Professor of Law and Legal Studies (with History affiliation) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The previous Hurst Institute sessions were led by distinguished legal history scholars Lawrence M. Friedman (Stanford University), Robert W. Gordon (Yale and Stanford), Barbara Young Welke (University of Minnesota), and Hendrik Hartog (Princeton University).

The two-week program is structured but informal, and features presentations by guest scholars, discussions of core readings in legal history, and analysis of the work of the participants in the Institute. The general format includes intensive daily sessions Monday-Friday that run through mid-afternoon, a few scheduled social events, and some free time for additional discussion, reading and research. Fellows will have the opportunity to conduct archival work at the Wisconsin Historical Society. (The Society holds a vast array of primary documents and is particularly strong in areas involving nineteenth- and twentieth-century social movements and labor activism. In addition, the Library possesses an excellent collection of federal and state government material which is largely un-catalogued.)

The ASLH Hurst Selection Committee will select twelve Fellows to participate in this event.

Applicant Qualifications

Preference will be given to applications from scholars in the early stage of their career (beginning faculty members, doctoral students who have almost completed their dissertations, post-doctoral fellows, and J.D. graduates with appropriate backgrounds). 

Fellowship Requirements

Fellows are expected to be in residence for the entire two-week term of the Institute, to participate in all program activities of the Institute, and to give an informal works-in-progress presentation in the second week of the Institute. Fellows will be required to read certain materials before the sessions begin, and to submit background materials for their presentation by May 19th, two weeks before sessions begin. Fellows also are expected to demonstrate a willingness to engage with scholars from other fields and backgrounds, and to contribute to fostering an atmosphere of collegiality. 

Fellowship Terms

The Institute for Legal Studies will pay for approved travel expenses and will provide a private room for each fellow at a hotel located on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Most meals will be provided.

Application Process

(1) Submit the following materials in a single pdf file starting with your last name to Multiple attachments will not be accepted.
• Curriculum Vitae with your complete contact information.
• Statement of Purpose (maximum 500 words) describing your current work, specific research interests, and the broader perspectives on legal history that inform your work.
(2) Arrange to have two letters of recommendation sent electronically as a pdf file (these must be on institutional letterhead and signed) to by the deadline.

Completed applications will be confirmed by email when all required documents have been received.
Please note that late or incomplete applications will not be accepted.

Deadlines for the 2017 Session

Applications will be accepted until December 1, 2016.
Decisions will be announced by March 1, 2017.

Questions: Contact

For more information click "Further official information" below.

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Host Countries

United States