The Penny Pether Law & Language Scholarship Award 2023

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The Penny Pether Award for Law & Language Scholarship is given annually to an article or essay published during the preceding year that exemplifies Pether’s commitment to law and language scholarship and pedagogy. The award was suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic. This year the Committee will consider works published between 2020-2023.

A passionate advocate for interdisciplinary scholarship in law, literature, and language, Penelope J. Pether (1957-2013) was Professor of Law at Villanova University School of Law and former Professor of Law and Director of Legal Rhetoric at the American University Washington College of Law. Her own scholarship focused not only on law, literature, and language, but also on constitutional and comparative constitutional law; legal theory, including constitutional theory; common law legal institutions, judging practices, and professional subject formation.

The Committee selecting award recipients from among the articles and essays nominated will look for scholarship that not only embodies Pether’s passion and spirit but also has some or all of the following characteristics:

  1. “[S]cholarship concerning itself with the unique or distinctive insights that might emerge from interdisciplinary inquiries into ‘law’ grounded in the work of influential theorists of language and discourse.”
  2. Scholarship that “attempts to think through the relations among subject formation, language, and law.”
  3. Scholarship that provides “accounts of—and linguistic interventions in—acute and yet abiding crises in law, its institutions and discourses.”
  4. Scholarship and pedagogy, including work addressing injustices in legal-academic institutions and practices, that is “[c]arefully theorized and situated, insisting on engaging politics and law, [and that] charts ways for law and its subjects to use power, do justice.”

List of past winners:

Deadline: Nominations should be sent by February 1, 2024, to Jeremy Mullem at

Eligibility: Any article or essay published during the calendar years 2020-2023 is eligible.  You are free to nominate more than one work and to nominate work you’ve written. Please provide a citation and a pdf for each work you nominate. 

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