CFP: Classical rhetoric & contemporary law

Express your interest in collaborating on scholarship exploring the intersections of classical rhetoric and contemporary law

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Preliminary proposals due September 14, 2018 October 5, 2018 (AoE)

Classical Rhetoric & Contemporary Law, a national group of scholars in the legal academy broadly interested in rhetorical theory and particularly in classical rhetorical texts, has been meeting virtually for more than a year discussing such texts and their intersections with contemporary legal practices and education. The list of texts the group has discussed so far appears below. The group has presented portions of its work at 2018 conferences of the Rhetoric Society of America and of the Legal Writing Institute.

Many (though not all) of CRCL’s members are experienced legal practitioners and law teachers and scholars specializing in teaching legal communication in the legal academy; others have training in rhetoric, communication studies, and philosophy, among other disciplines. Most are not trained with terminal degrees in rhetoric and none in classics. Many are also eager to be scholarly collaborators.

CRCL intends this CFP to elicit proposals that identify and advance scholarly projects to discuss, illustrate, explore, or advocate for the relationship between classical rhetoric and current legal education or law practice or both. Any interested scholar, whether a member of CRCL or no, is welcome to submit a proposal in the form described below.

Preliminary proposals are due October 5 September 14, 2018 (Anywhere On Earth). A proponent may submit more than one preliminary proposal. A subset of CRCL (identified below) will evaluate proposals for completeness and relevance. CRCL will then have a video conference the last week of September or first week of October 2018 where group members and proponents will review the proposals and have the option to align themselves with one or more of them. Thereafter CRCL will shape its activities and the readings that it discusses over the coming months to support the projects selected by its members. It may function as reading group, writing group, writing workshop, or in some other form appropriate to support the projects growing out of it.[1]

Proposal form and format

Each proposal should be in the form of a PDF file and respond to the following prompts:

  1. Proponent information. The proponents should provide their names, affiliations, and scholarly disciplines. CRCL expects that most proponents will come from the fields of legal communication, legal theory, legal philosophy (or jurisprudence), (classical) rhetorical theory, history of rhetoric, communication studies, argumentation theory, and technical and professional communication. Scholars from other fields should indicate the relevance of their training and research to contemporary law, classical rhetoric, or both.
  2. Project overview. The proposal should include a description of the project not exceeding 200 words that identifies the form(s) the scholarship will take and its likely audience(s). See the examples identified below.
  3. A “thick outline” of the project or some part of it. (See note.)
  4. Example of scholarship in applicable mode(s). A brief example of some work product that would begin to flesh out the outline. (See note.)
  5. Proponent and collaborator proposed roles. The proponents should indicate whether they seek to lead a team on the proposed project or hope to find another scholar to lead or co-lead the team’s work. They should indicate what they are hoping collaborators can contribute.
  6. A brief summary of target timelines for the project. This summary can be very tentative. It should, however, address in some meaningful way the commitment of time that proponents are expecting of collaborators.
  7. Other than the project overview, there are no length limitations on proposals, but CRCL expects most will be considerably shorter than this CFP!

NOTE: The requirements for thick outline and example perhaps require explanation. Some of CRCL’s members will propose, while others will merely want to work on, projects. The project outlines and example work product need to be sufficiently detailed to permit potential collaborators to decide whether to align behind projects. Thus, a high-level outline for most of the project, with a detailed outline for part of it and sample prose (for example) for some very small portion of it or from a similar work (or a reference to such a similar work), should help potential collaborators understand the project at large and small scales. In short, they need to know whether it is the kind of work they might enjoy doing. Of course, potential collaborators may seek to influence project design; we anticipate a dialogic process for some period of time following the presentation meeting.

Email proposals by the deadline and direct inquiries regarding them to Dr. Brian N. Larson, Texas A&M University School of Law,

Possible project types (not an exhaustive list)

The following types of project have already been discussed at least briefly by CRCL members (though CRCL as a group will pursue none of these unless proposed as part of this process). Project proposals of entirely different types are also welcome. The key is to identify and substantiate meaningful connections between classical rhetoric and contemporary law.

  1. A symposium hosted at a law school resulting in a symposium issue of the school’s law review focused on classical rhetoric and contemporary law. Collaborators would commit to develop essays suitable for presentation and publication and to assist in organizing and promoting the symposium. The organizers of such an event might also invite recognized speakers from outside the group to take part. Such a proposal should consider how the symposium might be funded and whether it would be held face-to-face or virtually.
  2. A reader or annotated reader targeted at advanced law students (probably in a legal rhetoric seminar). The authors/editors might select excerpts of classical texts, provide necessary context, offer critical evaluation, and perhaps pair them with contemporary legal communicative performances (excerpts from briefs, court opinions, oral arguments, etc.). Collaborators might be expected to select texts to edit, criticize, and contextualize and for which they would describe contemporary intersections.
  3. A reader or annotated reader targeted at graduate students (or advanced undergraduates) in rhetorical theory or history of rhetoric. This might have a similar structure to the previous example, but with a different critical focus.
  4. A reader or annotated reader targeted at a combination of the previous two audiences.
  5. A law review article more narrowly focused on some classical text or theme. The proponent could be seeking collaborators to assist with concept, research, and writing.
  6. A university press book that makes a significant contribution to legal theory, rhetorical theory, or both. The proponent could be seeking collaborators to assist with concept, research, and writing.

Texts already discussed by CRCL

These are the texts that CRCL has already read and discussed. Project proposals are not bound to them, however. Your proposal may require collaborators to gain familiarity with other classical texts, or with medieval, renaissance, or later texts that engage critically with classical texts. But at the root must be contemporary legal practices and some rhetorical text or group of texts written before 500 CE. Proposals relating to ancient texts and contemporary legal practices from cultures other than the West are also welcome, but in that event proponents should be sure to provide enough context to permit scholars previously focused on the western canon and western practices to understand potential intersections with law or rhetoric (or both) in the West.

  • Gorgias. Encomium of Helen.
  • Anonymous. Double Arguments (Dissoi Logoi).
  • Antiphon. The Tetralogies.
  • Aeschines. Against Ctesiphon.
  • Demosthenes. On the Crown.
  • Isocrates. Against the Sophists.
  • Isocrates. Antidosis.
  • Plato. Gorgias.
  • Plato. Phaedrus.
  • Aristotle:
    • Categories.
    • De Interpretatione.
    • Prior Analytics.
    • Posterior Analytics.
    • Topics (Books I and VIII, with Excerpts from Related Texts).
    • On Rhetoric
  • Cicero. On the Ideal Orator [De Oratore].
  • Quintillian. Books One, Two and Ten of the Institutio Oratoria.

CRCL members mustering and evaluating proposals

The following members of CRCL are promoting this call for proposals and will evaluate preliminary proposals for completeness and relevance:

  • Ted Becker, University of Michigan Law School
  • Kirsten A. Dauphinais, University of North Dakota School of Law
  • Kirsten K. Davis, Stetson University College of Law
  • Melissa Greipp, Marquette University Law School
  • Brian N. Larson, Texas A&M University School of Law
  • Francis J. Mootz III, University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law
  • Susan E. Provenzano, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law
  • Susan Salmon, University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law
  • Kristen K. Tiscione, Georgetown University Law Center
  • Laura A. Webb, University of Richmond School of Law

Photo “Roman Forum and Palatine Hill” Copyright 2010 Robert Lowe, used under CC BY2.0 license (info at

[1] It seems unlikely, but it may be that no proposal will find even one collaborator as a result of this process. In that event, it is our hope at least to provide useful feedback to proponents regarding their ideas so that this will not seem a waste of time.

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