Telling Theories


  • Donald Brenneis


Abstract In Minding the Law, Jerome Bruner and Anthony Amsterdam provide a reflective exploration of their pedagogy in a law school course on lawyering practice. This article argues that the book provides a valuable range of ways of thinking about what constitutes theory, about how theory is linked to those classificatory, narrative, and rhetorical moments through which it is shaped, and about how it is intimately linked to how we practice our particular creative and interpretive crafts. Central to Amsterdam and Bruner's book are specific cases, in this instance primarily appellate decisions. The article considers their analysis of cases in legal learning in relation to a broader range of approaches to case-based reasoning and theory building in philosophy, history, and the social sciences, arguing for a particularly strong resonance between such approaches and key dimensions of ethnographic practice. [narrative, rhetoric, theory building, Jerome Bruner, case method]