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Research Canons

Books and articles that are essential to a new academic in various areas of legal inquiry as suggested by contributors to PrawfsBlawg.


  1.  Patrick S. Atiyah, The Rise and Fall of Freedom of Contract (1979) (suggested by Jonathan Kang).
  2. Patrick S. Atiyah, Essays on Contract (1986) (suggested by Patrick S. O'Donnell). 
  3. Patrick S.Atiyah, Promises, Morals, and Law (1981) (suggested by Jeff Lipshaw). 
  4. The Theory of Contract Law (Peter Benson, ed., 2001) (suggested by Patrick S. O'Donnell). 
  5. Hugh Collins, Regulating Contracts (1999) (suggested by Patrick S. O'Donnell). 
  6. Charles Fried, Contract as Promise (1981) (suggested by Jeff Lipshaw). 
  7. Grant Gilmore, The Death of Contract (1974) (suggested by Patrick S. O'Donnell). 
  8. Dori Kimel, From Promise to Contract: Towards a Liberal Theory of Contract (2003) (suggested by Patrick S. O'Donnell). 
  9. Jody S. Kraus,  Philosophy of Contract Law, in The Oxford Handbook of Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law  687 (Jules Coleman &  Scott Shapiro, eds. 2002) (suggested by Patrick S. O'Donnell).
  10. C.C. Langdell, Selection of Cases on the Law of Contracts  (1871) (suggested by Jonathan Kang). 
  11. Ian MacNeil, The Relational Theory of Contract (2001) (suggested by Jeff Lipshaw). 
  12. Richard Posner, Economic Analysis of Law (1973) (suggested by Jeff Lipshaw).
  13.  A.W.B. Simpson, A History of the Common Law of Contract (1975) (suggested by Jonathan Kang).Stephen
  14. A. Smith, Contract Theory (2004) (suggested by Patrick S. O'Donnell).   


  1. Articles by Avery Katz and Richard Craswell (suggested by Jeff Lipshaw). 
  2.  Ian ​Ayres &  Robert Gertner, Strategic Contractual Inefficiency and the Optimal Choice of Legal Rules, 101 Yale L. Rev. 729 (1992) (suggested by Jeff Lipshaw).
  3. Randy E. Barnett, A Consent Theory of Contract, 86 Colum. L. Rev. 269 (1986) (suggested by by Patrick S. O'Donnell and Ethan Leib). 
  4. Lisa Bernstein, Opting out of the Legal System: Extralegal Contractual Relations in the Diamond Industry, 21 J. Legal Stud. 115 (1992) (suggested by Jeff Lipshaw). 
  5. Richard Craswell, Contract Law, Default Rules and the Philosophy of Promising, 88 Mich. L. Rev. 489 (1989) (the response to Fried; suggested by Jeff Lipshaw). 
  6. Clare Dalton, An Essay in the Deconstruction of Contract Doctrine, 94 Yale L. J. 997 (1985) (suggested by Miriam Cherry). 
  7. ​Karen Eggleston, et al, The Design and Interpretation of Contracts: Why Complexity Matters, 95 Northwestern L. Rev. 91 (2000) (suggested by Jeff Lipshaw). ​
  8. Mary Joe Frug, Re-Reading Contracts: A Feminist Analysis of a Contracts Casebook, 34 Am. U. L. Rev. 1065 (1985) (suggested by Miriam Cherry).  
  9. Lon Fuller, Consideration and Form, 41 Colum. L. Rev. 799 (1941) (suggested by Miriam Cherry) 
  10. L.L. Fuller & William R. Perdue, The Reliance Interest in Contract Damages, 46 Yale L.J. 52 (1936) (and perhaps Richard Craswell, Against Fuller & Purdue, 67 U. Chi. L. Rev. 99 (2000); suggested by Ethan Leib) 
  11. Ronald J. Gilson, Value Creation by Business Lawyers: Legal Skills and Asset Pricing, 94 Yale L.J. 239 (1984) (it draws on Williamson, of course, but it's much more accessible and "law" oriented; suggested by Vic Fleischer).  
  12. Charles J. Goetz & Robert E. Scott, Enforcing Promises: An Examination of the Basis of Contract, 89 Yale L.J. 1261 (1980) (suggested by Jonathan Kang
  13. Duncan Kennedy, From the Will Theory to the Principle of Private Autonomy: Lon Fuller's "Consideration and Form,"  100 Colum. L. Rev. 94 (2000) (suggested by Jonathan Kang). 
  14. Duncan Kennedy, Form & Substance in Private Law Adjudication, 89 Harv. L. Rev. 1685  (1976) (suggested by Jonathan Kang).
  15. Anthony T. Kronman, Contracts and Distributive Justice, 89 Yale L.J. 472 (1980) (suggested by Jonathan Kang).
  16. Stewart Macauley, Non-Contractual Relations in Business: An Empirical Study, 28 Am. Sociological Rev. 55 (1963) (suggested by Jeff Lipshaw). 
  17. Daniel Markovits, Contract and Collaboration, 113 Yale L. J. 1417 (2004) (suggested by Ethan Leib).  
  18. Margaret Jane Radin, Market-Inalienability, 100 Harv. L. Rev. 1849 (1987) (suggested by Rich B). 
  19. Robert Scott, A Theory of Self-Enforcing Contracts, 103 Colum. L. Rev. 1641 (2003) (suggested by Jeff Lipshaw). 
  20.  Alan Schwartz & Robert E. Scott, Contract Theory and the Limits of Contract Law, 113 Yale L. J. 541 (2003) (suggested by Jeff Lipshaw). 
  21.  Samuel Williston, The Law of Sales in the Proposed Uniform Commercial Code, 63 Harv. L. Rev. 562 (1950) (Williston's Harvard Law Review article from the 1950s in which he inveighs against proposed Article 2 of the UCC may not be canonical but it's a very human and kinda sad take on the passing of one era into another; suggested by Jeff Lipshaw).