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Mark Tushnet, “Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “Roll Over Beethoven”: Tom Stoppard and Critical Legal Studies (Harvard Pub. L. Working Paper No. 21-15, Mar. 2, 2021).

Abstract: In 1969-70 or thereabouts several Yale Law School students set up a “commune” in the courtyard between what were then residential halls. At roughly the same time David Trubek and Rick Abel were holding a reading group on law and development with a heavy dose of social theory, a harbinger of what became critical legal studies. The two events can be taken as representative of alternative paths to social transformation – roughly, the cultural path and the path to change through self-consciously directed political action. In this short paper, originally prepared for a conference on the intellectual history of critical legal studies at Princeton University in February 2020, I read two works as dialogues about those paths, Tom Stoppard’s play “Rock ‘n’ Roll,” which looks at Czechoslovakia from 1968 through 1989 – from the Prague Spring through the Soviet occupation to the collapse of the Soviet empire – and “Roll Over Beethoven,” a discussion between “Peter Gabel” and “Duncan Kennedy” about some controversies in the early years of critical legal studies.