Monthly Archives: April 2016

Sara Ross

Books News: New Work on the Role of Law in Shakespeare

Shakespeare's Binding Language book cover

Next month Professor John Kerrigan of Cambridge University will publish his work Shakespeare’s Binding Language on Oxford University Press, with a release date of May 10, 2016. One of the world’s leading scholars in the study and analysis of Shakespeare, Kerrigan takes a look at the role of contracts, oaths, and other legal language used in Shakespeare’s work. According the to the publisher:

“Shakespeare’s Binding Language” gives a freshly researched account of these contexts, but it is focused on the plays. What motives should we look for when characters asseverate or promise? How far is binding language self-persuasive or deceptive? When is it allowable to break a vow? How do oaths and promises structure an audience’s expectations? Across the sweep of Shakespeare’s career, from the early histories to the late romances, this book opens new perspectives on key dramatic moments and illuminates language and action.

You can read more about the upcoming work at the publisher’s website here.


Sara Ross

Call for Papers: Où sont les bibliothèques spoliées par les nazis? Tentatives d’identification et de restitution, un chantier en cours


A bilingual (French or English) conference on the Nazi looting of books, manuscripts, and other literary treasures, will be held between March 23rd and 24th, 2017 at the National Library of France and Université Paris Diderot. The submissions should include a 600 word abstract/proposal in either French or English sent to the Scientific Committee at by September 30th, 2016.

You can read the French language call for papers here.

If the subject matter is of interest, you may also want to follow the progress of a new bill in the United States Senate that is seeking to form a federal standard for dealing with Holocaust claims across the country. This so-called Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery (HEAR) Act of 2016 is sponsored across partisan lines by US Senators Ted Cruz (R), John Cornyn (R), Charles Schumer (D), and Richard Blumenthal (D). You can read more about their efforts at the Art Law Report here.

Sara Ross

News Piece of Interest: Tony Jackman on Modern Censorship

No sign

The Daily Maverick of South Africa has published an article by Tony Jackman entitled “Burning Insight: When ignorance destroys art”, which makes links to the historical censorship of literature and art, including that which was endured during Apartheid South Africa, to the contemporary issues in the Middle East regarding the burning of books and art. The article includes the following:

In our own time, works of art were collateral damage in the World Trade Center attacks. They included a tapestry by Joan Miró and a Roy Lichtenstein painting. If that was incidental, Islamic State (Isis) showed tremendous purpose in sending bulldozers to level the ancient city of Hatra and shortly thereafter, Nimrud, in March 2015, laying waste to precious antiquities in the Mosul Museum and many others, in what Unesco called an act … showing the contempt in which Isis holds “the history and heritage of Arab people”. At Nimrud a ninth century BC palace was laid waste, while targeting pre-Islamic heritage.

The article can be read in full here.

Sara Ross

Book News: A Culture of Rights: Law, Literature, and Canada by Benjamin Authers

A Culture of Rights book cover

This June, Guelph University Literary Studies Professor Benjamin Authers will publish his new book A Culture of Rights: Law, Literature, and Canada on University of Toronto Press. The work situates itself within the post-Charter world of 1982 to present, using an intertextual analysis of novels written by Canadian authors within the last three decades of Constitutional rights cases and legal texts. According to Authers, the advent of the Charter has coincided with the rise of “rights”-based literature written by top Canadian literary figures. According to the publisher,

With the passage into law of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982, rights took on new legal, political, and social significance in Canada. In the decades following, Canadian jurisprudence has emphasised the importance of rights, determining their shape and asserting their centrality to legal ideas about what Canada represents …  He suggests that, at present, even when rights are violated, popular insistence on Canada’s rights-driven society remains.

You can read more about the book at the publisher’s website here.


Sara Ross

Logo Contest for the 2017 International Meeting on Law and Society in Mexico City

LSA logo

The Law and Society Association of the United States has announced a contest to produce the logo for the 2017 International Meeting on Law and Society to be held in Mexico City. The joint meeting will be held between the Law and Society Association, the Research Committee on Sociology of Law of the International Sociological Association, the Socio-Legal Studies Association, the Japanese Association of the Sociology of Law, and the Canadian Law and Society Association, between June 20th and 23th, 2017. The winning entry will receive “special recognition during the conference and in the LSA website,” and either $600 cash prize or a $200 cash prize and complimentary registration to the 2017 Mexico City international meeting, as well as a one year membership to both the LSA and RCSL. Submissions are due by May 16th, 2016 at the submission website:

You can read more about the contest at its official website here.

Sara Ross

Live From City Hall: Concert and Panel Series in Toronto


As a part of the now enacted Music City Initiative in the City of Toronto, the city has launched a new series of events: the Live from City Hall concerts, each followed on a panel regarding the state of the music industry and culture in the city. The first event in the series will be held on April 21st, 2016, featuring concerts by Xolisa and The Jay Snider Band, “followed by a music-themed discussion in the City Hall rotunda that will help music event organizers find out more about applying for outdoor event or alternative space permits, policing requirements, and general best practices for running smooth events that integrate successfully with surrounding communities.” You can read more about the premiere event here.

Sara Ross

Major Art Theft in Springfield, Missouri

Warhol cans

A number of paintings by Andy Warhol have been stolen from the Springfield Art Museum in Missouri, including an unknown quantity of his Campbell Soup Cans series of works. The theft occurred overnight on Wednesday April 6th; the museum had been in possession of the paintings since their donation in 1985. Both the FBI and INTERPOL have been alerted to the theft of the works, estimated to be worth as much as about $30,000 USD each. According to KSDK News, “As part of an accreditation process, the museum has been working on an emergency preparedness plan for the last six months … part of that process has been to review the museum’s security systems.” They news agency continued that “the new emergency preparedness plan has not yet been completed.”

Sara Ross

$1 Billion+ Added to Canada’s Arts and Culture Budget

Canadian flag

The Art Forum has picked up a news story regarding the Canadian Government, in which it has been reported that the Liberal Government will commit more than $1 billion in additional funding to arts and culture in Canada over the next five years. Nearly 30% of those funds will be earmarked for the Canada Council for the Arts. The grand total may come to $1.9 billion, once investment in museums and the CBC is included, reversing the trend of the previous government towards culling CBC spending.

Sara Ross

Was Stairway to Heaven Really Stolen?

Led Zeppelin

Robert Plant and Jimmy Page Performing as Led Zeppelin (Photo by Jim Summaria)

Upon hearing that the most famous rock ballad of all time, Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, may have been partially lifted from another band, the immediate reaction is likely incredulity. How can one of the most listened to songs of all time really be ripped off from another band, beneath all of our noses? That is exactly what the representation of the American rock band Spirit is alleging, citing close similarities between the first two minutes of the 1971 rock classic and Spirit’s 1968 instrumental song Taurus. And, upon listening, those two songs do sound very similar.

Whether the similarity is coincidental or a conscious homage, Los Angeles US district judge Gary Klausner has ruled that there is enough basis for a copyright infringement trial to take place – court proceedings begin on May 10, 2016. Led Zeppelin members Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, who wrote Stairway to Heaven, will stand as defendants in the case, which seeks a co-writing credit on the song for the late Spirit vocalist and guitarist Randy California. The attorney representing California’s estate has stated that he will not settle the case without the partial credit being awarded to the Spirit front man.

Sara Ross

Audio Project Reads Truth and Reconciliation Report Aloud

TRC logo

In June 2015 the blog Urbane Adventurer: Amiskwacî began a crowdsourcing project, which issued a call to action related to the Truth and Reconciliation Report. The project was founded by Zoe Todd, Erica Lee and Joseph Murdoch-Flowers, a colleague of mine from the Federal Court of Canada and McGill Faculty of Law, who was also behind the Folks Dressed up Like Eskimos anti-stereotype blog launched in 2013. Their project sought to create videos by indigenous individuals reading sections of the Report assigned to them by the founders of the project, providing an audio version of the Report‘s text.

The result of the project can be found in its YouTube feed here, where 140 videos cover a reading of the text aloud.