Past Event

Faculty Focus: Evidence and Persuasion, Ancient and Modern

February 29, 2024
1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Event time is displayed in your time zone.
Reid Hall | 4 rue de Chevreuse 75006 Paris

Registration page forthcoming.

This event will be held in English.

Organized by the Institute for Ideas and Imagination. Co-sponsored by Columbia Global Centers | Paris.

Legal systems are not just sets of abstract rules; they are embedded in society and imbued with mythologies and psychologies. A myth about English law is that it arose autochthonously on the island of Britain and developed independent of outside influence. After it emigrated to the North American colonies, another myth tells us that U.S. law emerged new, like a phoenix, from the fire of revolution and the U.S. Constitution. A converse myth describes the death of ancient Greek law with the absorption, two millennia ago, of Greek cities into the Roman empire and Roman law. According to this story, Greek law became a historical dead end.

Both myths are wrong, and for some of the same reasons. As the trial procedures of English and American law began to resemble ancient Greek trials, English and American lawyers came, more and more, to study and adopt the techniques of legal persuasion practiced and theorized by ancient Greeks. These techniques relied on psychologies of persuasion especially relevant to the adversarial nature of all three legal systems, in which rhetoric, emotion, and politics can be just as important as science, logic, and law.

Jesse James

Jesse James is a Classicist, historian, and lawyer whose research focuses on the social and psychological dimensions of law, especially in ancient Greece. He has written about Greek international law, legal socialization, and Thucydides. He received his PhD in Classics from Columbia University, and fellowships from the German Archaeological Institute, Harvard Law School, and the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

The place

To be notified of our upcoming events, we invite you to sign up for our fortnightly newsletter.

This event will take place in the Grande Salle Ginsberg-LeClerc, built at Reid Hall in 1912 and extensively renovated in 2023 thanks to the generous support of Judith Ginsberg and Paul LeClerc.

For nearly 60 years, Columbia University students and faculty have come to study, teach, and pursue their research at Reid Hall, home to Columbia Global Centers | Paris. Nestled in the Montparnasse district, Reid Hall also hosts several other Columbia University initiatives: Columbia Undergraduate Programs, M.A. in History and Literature, GSAPP Shape of Two Cities Program, and the Institute for Ideas and Imagination. This unique combination of resources is enhanced by our global network whose mission is to expand the University's engagement the world over through educational programs, research initiatives, regional partnerships, and public events.

From graduate and undergraduate courses to webinars attracting audiences worldwide; from executive training to artist residencies, the Paris Center is a hub for scholars, students, and artists who cross both disciplinary and national boundaries alike. Through its public programs, the Center also addresses pressing global issues that are at the forefront of international education and research: agency and gender; climate and the environment; critical dialogues for just societies; encounters in the arts; and health and medical science.

The views and opinions expressed by speakers and guests do not necessarily reflect the official policies or positions of Columbia Global Centers | Paris or its affiliates.