Duncan Kennedy - sitting on desk in classroom

Credit: Unbound – https://legalleft.org/previous-issues/volumex/

Duncan Kennedy is the Carter Professor of General Jurisprudence, Emeritus at Harvard Law School. He is well known as one of the founders of the Critical Legal Studies movement.

This episode contains the second part of Abbey Marr’s three-part interview of Professor Duncan Kennedy. In this part of their discussion, Duncan focuses on questions of hierarchy. How could a movement built on the idea of criticizing illegitimate hierarchy structure itself without reproducing the very sort of hierarchies it sought to resist?

Kennedy discusses CLS critiques of hierarchy within what he calls the “profoundly conservatizing” law school classroom. He describes his efforts to address some of the harmful tendencies of the Socratic method and to disarm the so-called “gunners” by adopting the no-hassle pass and other pedagogical tactics. 

This portion of the interview begins to explore the complex intersectional tensions along vectors of race and gender and the growing fractures that would contribute to the sudden and complete burnout of CLS as a movement in the early 1990s. 

Throughout this episode, you’ll hear Duncan refer to people, events, and scholarly works that impacted or interacted with CLS. You can find links to most of those among the “Referenced Scholars and Works” section below. In addition, we’ve included a rough transcript of the entire episode.