The Legal and Cultural Worlds of the Inns of Court (seminar)

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For more past programming from the Folger Institute, please see the article Folger Institute scholarly programs archive.

This was a spring 2012 faculty weekend seminar led by Christopher Brooks.

File:Brooks Themes Readings and Questions.pdf

This seminar in the Folger series on English pedagogical institutions focused on the so-called “third university of England,” the inns of court and inns of chancery in London. Unincorporated voluntary societies that housed practicing lawyers alongside young men training for the profession, the inns also contained “amateur” members drawn largely from the landed gentry. Some have argued that the literary vitality and rich culture of performing arts associated with the inns was only loosely connected with the (meager) pedagogic framework they provided. Yet, the inns remained the intellectual nerve-center of English law. There are, therefore, intriguing questions about the place of the inns as distinctive legal and educational societies within the wider cultural life of London. A dialogic consideration of legal education, such as this seminar invited, challenges us to re-think the relationship between institutions and the acquisition and transmission of knowledge and expertise across a range of media and intellectual communities. Applicants with fully developed research projects were encouraged to frame their own inquiries in their applications. Others were invited to consider a contribution in connection with the themes discussed above.

Director: Christopher Brooks is Professor of History at Durham University and is currently the holder of a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship, which he is using to write the volume covering the years 1625-1689 for the Oxford History of the Laws of England. His most recent major publication is Law, Politics and Society in Early Modern England (2008).