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Robert W. Gordon in conversation with David Sugarman

Citation: Sugarman, David (2018) Robert W. Gordon in conversation with David Sugarman. UNSPECIFIED. None. (Unpublished)

Robert W. Gordon in Conversation with David Sugarman-FV 5.9.18.pdf

Creative Commons: Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

The discussion that follows arises out of more than six hours of recorded conversations in which Bob Gordon talks about his life and work. It delineates the importance of Bob’s family background and early life; the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement and the 1960’s; his undergraduate studies at Harvard; his experience of learning law at Harvard Law School; the teachers that most inspired him; his early years as a law professor at Buffalo and Wisconsin; his multifarious research and writing projects, many unfinished or unpublished; and some of the key ideas, ideals, individuals and movements that shaped his thinking, writing and professional development including Barrington Moore Jr., Stanley Hoffmann, Mark de Wolfe Howe, John P. Dawson, Stewart Macaulay, Willard Hurst, E.P. Thompson and the Warwick School of Social History, Morton J. Horwitz, Duncan Kennedy, Lawrence M. Friedman, F.W. Maitland, American Legal Realism and Critical Legal Studies. It also illuminates a range of topics including how he came to write his most cited publication, “Critical Legal Histories”, and its intended goals; his response to its success and to subsequent criticisms, including the efficacy or otherwise of his influential notion of “law as constitutive of consciuousness”; how his vocal and highly visible support for Critical Legal Studies affected him; his copious writings on the legal profession, and their place within the literature on lawyers and society; the presentist dimensions in his work and his response to the issue of presentism; the use of history for either conservative or progressive causes; his preference for essay writing; and his writing style and polemical goals. His reflections on teaching and writing brings the conversation to a close.

Creators: Sugarman, David and
Subjects: Law
Divisions: Institute of Advanced Legal Studies
  • 7 November 2018 (submitted)


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