Author granted license

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date

Summer 1992




DePaul University College of Law




A small group of legal academicians is embroiled in yet another debate that, to the uninitiated at least, appears to have little or nothing to do with "the law." 1 This time the issue is the ideology of legal writing style-that is, does a growing, unique body of legal scholarship that draws on the personal experiences of minority faculty and, arguably, reflects the racial oppression these scholars have suffered, produce "distinct normative insights?" 2 Professor Patricia Williams of the University of Wisconsin clearly believes that it does.

In her new book, The Alchemy of Race and Rights,3 which is essentially a collection of twelve essays described in the jacket as "autobiographical," she discusses an extraordinarily wide range of subjects, including student evaluations, antisemitism, maternity leave, and the Howard Beach incident. The essays are united by Williams' conscious attempt to distance herself from traditional legal scholarship as she discusses the many ways in which race, class, and sometimes gender intersect and affect an almost bewildering variety of issues. She states at the outset that her work is an "intentional departure"4 from a "traditionally legal black-letter[] vocabulary." 5

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