The Four Subjects of Law Library Research

Mark Liberman at Language Log noted a couple of days ago:

In case you missed it this morning, Scott Simon interviewed Edward Hirsch on Weekend Edition, and together they read William Matthews' Four Subjects of Poetry:

1. I went out into the woods today, and it made me feel, you know, sort of religious.
2. We're not getting any younger.
3. It sure is cold and lonely (a) without you, honey, or (b) with you, honey.
4. Sadness seems but the other side of the coin of happiness, and vice versa, and in any case the coin is too soon spent, and on what we know not what.

Which led to Roger Shuy's four subjects of linguistic analysis:

1. I've analyzed a whole bunch of language phenomena and what I've found corrects/amplifies/changes completely what the rest of you less enlightened folks have to say about this subject.

2. I've discovered a spanking new language phenomenon and so, ta-da, here it is in all its glory.

3. I've gone to great pains to compare language phenomenon #1 with language phenomenon #2 and I found:
a. one of the two is more accurate or useful or pleasing or relevant than the other one, or
b. the two are either the same or so similar that it doesn't really make any difference.

4. I've discovered that a certain older language issue is still relevant today, so take that, you modern whipper-snappers.

Which led in turn to Kerim's four subjects of anthropological research:

  1. These people are really, really, oppressed, but look! They have agency!
  2. Identity is political and transcends national boundaries.
  3. These people used to have a tradition, but they’ve adapted it to better fit with their current lifestyle and now it is a different tradition.
  4. There are no signifieds, only an endless chain of signifiers representing the illusion of self resulting from desire-as-lack.

So here goes–my four subjects of law library research:

  1. We surveyed one of our research classes and they want us to emphasize print sources.
  2. We surveyed one of our research classes and they want us to emphasize electronic sources.
  3. A current management theory, summarized in ten pages or less, applies to law libraries.
  4. Technology will change everything, but there will always be a need for law libraries.
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About James G. Milles

Professor of Law, SUNY Buffalo Law School

Posted on April 11, 2006, in Libraries, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Hey there I’m Mattie West and I’m 15 years old and I want to be come a lawyer for criminal law. But so far I haven’t found any information relating to criminal law. And what it takes to be come one. All I know is that it going to take me about 7 years of college to become a lawyer and that I have to have a Bachelor’s degree in any subject first. Please this is my dream I really to become a lawyer in crimial law so can you please help me. If you want to write me back at my e-mail address.
    Starrrock1@yahoo.com

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