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Contorts Anyone?

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5 Responses

  1. Jim says:

    As a first year class – no. I took a “Contorts” class. My professor “unpacked” it about as well as I ever think anyone could have, and it was still difficult and, for the effort, returned very little. First year students’ lack of knowledge of the concepts underlying the “common ground” between contracts and torts – despite Gilmore’s gloss – renders it abstract and empty. This is compounded only by the intellectual mish-mash in which Gilmore himself engaged that led half of the class to distraction (with most saying only during bar review – Oh! I get it!). I reread Gilmore years later and while what he had to say was interesting, its practical implications had been, and remain, nil. A true appreciation requires a thorough grounding in the debates among Corbin, Williston, et al. before Gilmore (before one might say “Formalist,” may I suggest – Letters of Credit and ISDA?). While Contorts is a terrific way to teach social science under the cover of law, and a wonderful way for a teacher to stay amused while teaching an otherwise deadly first year subject, it is, by its very nature, almost fated to remain an abject mess.

  2. Bruce Boyden says:

    I once had a case under Quebec law. The Quebec Civil Code has a single chapter, “Obligations,” covering both contracts and torts. There are voluntary obligations — contracts — and involuntary obligations — torts. That doesn’t strike me as a bad way to organize the topics.

  3. Chase says:

    As a first year class at LSU we are taught the course of “Obligations.” It’s a spring semester course (torts and contracts are also taught fall semester). Similar (probably identical, come to think of it) to our civilian friends in Quebec, the Louisiana Civil Code (and a short precis on the topic) is the essential text.

    Long live the Civil Code!

  4. ubeube says:

    Hi Prof. Cunningham,

    The back-and-forth you describe between your class and Prof. Turley’s torts class sounds interesting. I hope you plan on doing something similar this year, and that I am lucky enough to be placed in the section you are teaching!

  5. mjb says:

    A contorts class is part of Georgetown’s alternative first-year curriculum. It is called “Bargain, Exchange, and Liability” and is currently taught by Gary Peller. Like the other courses in the alternative curriculum, the approach is theory-heavy with academic articles mixed into the case law. The theoretical emphases are law and economics and CLS. Readings include The Death of Contract, Richard Posner, Duncan Kennedy, and Prof. Peller.

    The torts and contracts sides of the course are taught in parallel. The syllabus starts with the creation of obligations under both contract and tort law, defenses in each body of law, etc., and culminates with products liability.

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