Published: April 10, 2018

Associate Professor Justin Desautels-Stein recently published two new books that draw on his background and expertise in critical legal studies and contemporary legal thought.

The Jurisprudence of Style

The first is a monograph, The Jurisprudence of Style: A Structuralist History of American Pragmatism and Liberal Legal Thought. The product of research going back to Desautels-Stein’s studies in graduate school, The Jurisprudence of Style offers a fully developed account of how to understand critical legal studies today. The target of that redevelopment is what Desautels-Stein calls the legal structure of American Pragmatism.

Bernard Harcourt of Columbia University writes of The Jurisprudence of Style: “In this wide-ranging and masterful work, Justin Desautels-Stein explores, dissects, and critiques what it means to think like a lawyer in today’s hegemonic context of liberal legal thought. Drawing on art history and musicology, ranging from the anthropologist Philippe Descola to the philosopher Hubert Dreyfus, from Roland Barthes to Michel Foucault, Desautels-Stein creatively reinvigorates the Harvard School of legal structuralism to expose the deep historical, structural, and conceptual illusions of contemporary pragmatic legal liberal thought.”

Searching for Contemporary Legal Thought

Along with UC Berkeley historian Christopher Tomlins, Desautels-Stein also published the edited volume, Searching for Contemporary Legal Thought. Building out of conferences held at the University of Colorado Law School and Harvard Law School, Searching for Contemporary Legal Thought brings together nearly 30 scholars from around the world in an effort to answer the question of whether “contemporary legal thought” is a meaningful category of analysis. With parallels in the historiography of whether and when “contemporary art” exists, Desautels-Stein and Tomlins elicited responses from scholars including Duncan Kennedy, Marianne Constable, Samuel Moyn, Annelise Riles, and Pierre Schlag.

This spring, Desautels-Stein presented The Jurisprudence of Style at Cornell University and in Northern Europe, visiting the Universities of Helsinki, Stockholm, and Copenhagen.

Desautels-Stein joined the Colorado Law faculty in 2009. He teaches courses on Property, Law and Economic Development, International Law, Conflict of Laws, Globalization, Critical Race Theory, and Jurisprudence. His scholarship concentrates on the history of legal thought, with special emphases on the U.S. and international relations. His current book project explores the role of racial ideology in the history of international legal thought between 1815 and the present. In June 2017, he received Colorado Law’s Gamm Justice Award for his work in progress, “The Canon Reloaded: Equality and Exclusion in the History of International Legal Thought,” which takes an historical perspective to modern controversies in international theory and practice.