Fall Conference on David Engel’s “The Oven Bird’s Song”
Baldy Center for Law & Social Policy, University at Buffalo, SUNY
October 23, 2015
On October 23, 2015, the Baldy Center for Law & Social Policy at the University at Buffalo, SUNY is holding a one-day conference about David Engel’s 1984 article, “The Oven Bird’s Song: Insiders, Outsiders, and Personal Injuries in an American Community.” For over 30 years, this article has been a central work in the law & society field and is widely considered to be part of the law & society "canon." Engel’s article was among the first in the field to articulate what is now a taken-for-granted idea: that people’s ideas about law and the decisions they make to mobilize law are shaped by community norms and cultural context. It has been reprinted in several law and society edited volumes (including the first Law & Society Reader) and was recently featured as one of just 20 "exemplars" of law and society research spanning from 1963 to 2003 in Schmidt and Halliday's (2009) volume, Conducting Law and Society Research: Reflections on Methods and Practices. In the conference, we will be reflecting on the origins, impact, and future influence of this important work.
I hope you can join us, we’d love for you to attend and share your own thoughts about “The Oven Bird’s Song”! Here’s a peek at the day’s lineup:
Panel 1: Development and Contextualization of "The Oven Bird's Song"
Panelists in this session will talk about the broader context in which the article was written, both in terms of the then-emerging theoretical perspectives in law & society and in terms of Engel’s university context.
- Marc Galanter, Professor of Law Emeritus, University of Wisconsin
- Barbara Yngvesson, Professor Emerita of Anthropology, Hampshire College
- Stewart Macaulay, Professor of Law Emeritus, University of Wisconsin
- Alfred Konefsky, Professor of Law, University at Buffalo
Panel 2: Institutional Actors and "The Oven Bird"
This panel addresses the importance of Engel's article to scholars working in a range of areas in law & society. Panelists will discuss the impact of "The Oven Bird" on research on the legal profession, juries and jury decision making, law and social policy, and how ordinary people make decisions about mobilizing law.
- Anna-Maria Marshall, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Illinois
- Valerie Hans, Professor, Cornell Law School
- Lynn Mather, Professor of Law, University at Buffalo
- Eve Darian-Smith, Professor of Global & International Studies, UC, Santa Barbara
Panel 3: Pedagogical Opportunities and Challenges of "The Oven Bird's Song"
This panel offers different disciplinary takes on the article from a pedagogical perspective. We feature panelists from law schools and several social science departments to discuss how they teach the article to law students, undergraduates, and graduate students, including approaches, responses, and challenges.
- Neil Vidmar, Professor of Law and Psychology, Duke University
- Michael W. McCann, Professor of Sociology, University of Washington
- Renee Cramer, Associate Professor of Law, Politics, and Society, Drake University
- Anne Bunting, Associate Professor of Sociology, York University
Panel 4: Future Orientations: What’s the Research Agenda for the Coming Years?
"The Oven Bird's Song" was written under the influence of the interpretive turn of law and society, which was the new, exciting theoretical framework of that time. Panelists in this session look forward and discuss the new theoretical frameworks of today and the role that "The Oven Bird" plays (or will play) in the future of the field.
- Yoshitaka Wada, Professor, Waseda Law School (Japan)
- Anne Bloom, Associate Director, Civil Justice Program, Loyola Law School
- Jamie G. Longazel, Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work at the University of Dayton
- Scott Barclay, Professor of Political Science and History, Drexel University
David Engel will conclude the day’s conference with a brief response to panelists’ comments and ideas, and a discussion of his forthcoming book, Why We Don’t Sue: Explaining the Absence of Claims in Injury Cases.
Feel free to be in touch if you have questions about the conference or traveling to/visiting Buffalo!