Edited by Shauhin Talesh, Elizabeth Mertz and Heinz Klug
Chapter 4: From the periphery to the center and back? A brief history of Midwest Legal Realism
Leading histories of American legal realism frequently focus on the careers, writings, and intellectual legacies of realists who worked in prestigious Northeastern law schools. This chapter pushes back against these orthodox accounts, not for the purpose of dismissing the relevance of legal realism or its early proponents in the Northeast, but instead to recover the significance of legal realism in the Midwest. Our historical investigations demonstrate how social, political, and intellectual conditions within this particular geographical region has generated a peculiar history and legacy of legal realism. From the first wave of legal realism in the early 1900s to successor waves in the second half of the century, Midwestern scholars and institutions have profoundly shaped American legal realism and also contributed to valuable reforms in American law and legal education.
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