Saturday, March 15, 2008

Directed Reading

  • First, let me thank Jim (Dean Chen) for graciously providing this forum to me. I will be using it to share my bibliographies on motley topics as well as for occasional musings on matters that fall, roughly, under the rubric of "law, politics and philosophy" (more on the latter later).

    The bibliographies: These will be a bit (and unapologetically) idiosyncratic and confined in most cases to books in English. They will not be exhaustive although they should give one a good sense of the available literature in the chosen domain of inquiry. I began putting these together to aid my own research in the first instance and then thought they might help others, especially students, so, lacking a website, I started to individually distribute them. The response was gratifying and convinced me that they were indeed helpful, so I've continued to produce them by way of taking a break from more routine tasks and obligations. When I was in graduate school many years ago (the 1980s) I often spent an enormous amount of time trying to get a grip on the relevant literature on any given subject, believing this to be a prerequisite to writing anything of interest and value, especially after reading not a few articles or books by putative "specialists" in a field that showed an alarming lack of knowledge of the depth or breadth of the extant literature. Of course one can't, nor need, read everything. But these absences were often glaring and inexcusable and I was determined to do my best to familiarize myself with the bulk of literature in any intellectual field I happened to be exploring or hoped to explore. I often thought how wonderful it would be to have ready access to bibliographies of manageable length to guide audaciously amateurish ventures into unchartered intellectual territory.

    Moreover, and despite all the understandable rhetoric surrounding the necessity of interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary studies, professional socialization remains largely about specialization and thus it is very difficult for even those cautiously stepping outside their chosen field(s) of study to easily acquaint themselves with the necessary or best works in areas beyond their training. To be sure, there is the rare polymath or genius, and tenure does enable more time to be devoted to interdisciplinary pursuits should one be so inclined, but these are the exceptions that cement the rule. I lack tenure and I'm no polymath, let alone genius. Yet my status as a (very) part-time instructor at a community college with no academic ambition whatsoever (i.e., I'm not seeking a full-time position) and a spouse who permits me to earn far less than she does (at least for now), allows me to devote some time late into the evening and early into the morning (facilitated by insomnia, or at least an inability to sleep more than a few hours at a time) compiling these lists. I do hope you find them useful.

    Jim is kindly taking the trouble to turn these into files accessible at this site and thus I will share them as he (somehow) finds the time to convert them. Below are the bibliographies I've put together to date and plan to post here at Ratio Juris.
PLEASE NOTE: This list has since been updated here.


Blogger Patrick S. O'Donnell said...

I hope Professor Farber can forgive me for omitting his book, Eco-pragmatism: Making Sensible Environmental Decisions in an Uncertain World. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1999. I thought it was added to the list but somehow it (along with a couple of other titles) was not saved.

3/15/2008 10:18 AM  
Blogger Dean C. Rowan said...

Patrick, I'm looking forward to many of these, but particularly to the American Indian Law bibliography. I believe I'll be inclined to add it to a research guide I've maintained here, although I admit it has languished a bit lately.

3/16/2008 3:05 PM  
Blogger Patrick S. O'Donnell said...


Languishing or not, that's a wonderful resource guide you provide at the library. You might consider letting Matthew Fletcher at the Turtle Talk blog ( know about it so he can add it to his links for "Tribal Law Materials."

I should add that my very modest list now goes a bit beyond American Indian Law proper although I've yet to change the title to reflect that fact. Incidentally, the motivation for putting together this particular bibliography followed an exchange with Roger Alford over at Opinio Juris concerning, largely, the meaning of "sovereignty" with regard to American Indian Law, the understanding of which both reflects and supports the idea "that there are diverse legitimate interests that can best be served in different circumstances by a correspondingly broad range of intrastate autonomy regimes" (Allen Buchanan).

3/16/2008 4:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Impressive list. Are you taking requests? How about something on the ethical and legal issues of genomics and "predicitve health"?

3/18/2008 6:09 PM  
Blogger Patrick S. O'Donnell said...


While I have in mind a *few* more lists, the time involved in keeping the existing ones current means I won't be accepting requests for new ones. In any case, Genomics is a bit too specialized for me (although I am interested to learn about the ethical and legal issues it raises as I'm abysmally ignorant of them).

3/18/2008 8:35 PM  
Blogger Dean C. Rowan said...


Just caught up with the thread here after more than a week. I'm aware of Turtle Talk, but hadn't thought to contact Fletcher until you mentioned it. I'm aware of the ease with which a nominally circumscribed topic like American Indian Law can wander into related territories. Sometimes, that's all for the better.

3/24/2008 2:54 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home