Friday, March 23, 2012

Students invited to see Rare Book Room treasures

On Wednesday, March 28th at noon, any interested law student is invited and encouraged to meet in Law Library 253. We will have cookies and drinks, drop off backpacks and book bags, and then head to the Rare Book Room! Curator of Special Collections, Laurel Davis, has selected some treasures from our collection that students can interact with and discuss.

Some featured items will include a 1475 edition of Justinian's Codex, a lovely illuminated Book of Hours from around 1400, a first edition of Blackstone's Commentaries, and several law student notebooks from the early 1800s.

The Boston College Law School community is so fortunate to have such a beautiful and rich collection of rare legal materials, and we are looking forward to sharing these gems with the students. We hope to see you on Wednesday!

*The photo above is from our Book of Hours (a popular devotional text for laypeople during the Middle Ages), generously donated by Professor Daniel R. Coquillette.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Treasures in the Stacks: Beccaria's Essay on Crimes and Punishments

Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794) was an Italian philosopher, economist and criminologist, whose great work Dei delitti e delle pene (On Crimes and Punishments) was published in 1764. The book, an incredibly influential treatise on criminal justice and penology, advances the utilitarian principle that governments should seek the greatest good for the greatest number when punishing criminal offenders. Beccaria believed that this goal could be achieved most effectively by focusing on deterrence--not retribution. He advocated for swift punishment (thus creating a strong association between the commission of a crime and the resulting punishment) and for proportionality. Any punishment beyond which was absolutely necessary was deemed tyranny by Beccaria. He ardently opposed torture and advanced early and sustained arguments in opposition to the death penalty. Voltaire contributed extensive commentaries on the work, which are included in the back of the volume.

We own several editions of Beccaria's famous work, but featured here is the first edition published in English (London 1767). The volume was donated to the collection by the late Kathryn Preyer.