Marianne Constable


Marianne Constable has published broadly on a range of topics in legal rhetoric and philosophy. Her most recent book, entitled “Our Word is Our Bond: How Legal Speech Acts,” (Stanford University Press, 2014) shows how legal utterances, in speech and writing, are forms of law-in-action. She is currently working on the “new unwritten law” that ostensibly exonerated women who killed their husbands in Chicago a century ago, as a way of exploring the rhetoric of law and the rhetoric of history. She is also very interested in the written dialogue form, in the rhetoric of envirornment and administration, and in awareness and movement and their relations to learning. Her books include Just Silences: The Limits and Possibilities of Modern Law (2005) and The Law of the Other: The Mixed Jury and Changes in Conceptions of Citizenship, Law and Knowledge (1994), which won the Law and Society Association’s J. Willard Hurst Prize in Legal History.

Constable is the author of articles on, among other topics, Foucault and immigration law, Nietzsche and jurisprudence, the rhetoric of “community,” the role of law in the liberal arts, Frederick Schauer on rules, Robert Cover on violence, Montesquieu on systems, Vico on legal education, and Arendt on the rhetoric of “sustainability.” For her views on the importance of rhetoric, see  She has co-edited two books on law and society and has served on numerous editorial boards relating to law and humanities and law and society.

Constable was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford in 2013-14 and a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton during 2005-06; her awards include the NEH, a prize for undergraduate research mentoring at UCB, the Sarlo Distinguished Graduate Mentoring Award, and the Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities’ James Boyd White Award. She held the Zaffaroni Family Chair in Undergraduate Education 2009-2014, while also serving as Department Chair. On campus, she is affiliated with the Designated Emphases in Critical Theory and in Women and Gender Studies and affiliated with the Center for the Study of Law and Society.  Since 2005, she has been a certified Feldenkrais Method (R) practitioner.

Education: PhD (Jurisprudence and Social Policy), UC Berkeley

JD, UC Berkeley

Research interests: 

Legal rhetoric and philosophy
Theories of interpretation
Social and political thought
Anglo-American legal traditions Continental philosophy Contemporary law and society



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