The Alchemy of Race and Rights: diary of a Law Professor.There must be something in the water at Harvard University. First, Derrick Bell, who resigned from the Law School because it failed to add a black woman to the faculty, writes a book of metaphorical tales of racial injustice. Now Patricia J. Williams Patricia J. Williams (b. 1951) is a prominent law critic and a proponent of critical race theory, an offshoot of 1960s social movements that emphasizes race as a fundamental determinant of the American legal system. , a Harvard law grad, blends legal and literary theory in her autobiographical essay, The Alchemy of Race and Rights: Diary of a Law Professor.
But unlike Bell's weave of law as literature, Williams does not fictionalize fic·tion·al·ize
tr.v. fic·tion·al·ized, fic·tion·al·iz·ing, fic·tion·al·iz·es
To treat as or make into fiction: "has fictionalized his people and their town, but we know they are real" . The miscellany of diary entries, lecture notes, exams, briefs and even rejection letters are grist for her mill. It is apparent, as the reader looks over Williams' shoulder, that many subjects are worthy of analysis. She handles topics as diverse as Tawana Brawley, sausage machines, Benetton's advertisements, Howard Beach, Othello and food stamps with jurisprudence and deft anecdotal style.
Williams is an associate professor of law at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, who teaches commercial law, but her classroom assignments depart from the conventional. Her personal reflections also stymie sty·mie also sty·my
tr.v. sty·mied , sty·mie·ing also sty·my·ing , sty·mies
To thwart; stump: a problem in thermodynamics that stymied half the class.
1. students. "I sit in my office reviewing my students' evaluations of me," she says. "I am deified de·i·fy
tr.v. dei·fied, dei·fy·ing, dei·fies
1. To make a god of; raise to the condition of a god.
2. To worship or revere as a god: deify a leader.
3. , reified and vilified in all sorts of cross directions."
These evaluations of a professor who mixes bits of law and pieces of everyday life into unique combinations are another way of experiencing Williams' iconoclastic i·con·o·clast
1. One who attacks and seeks to overthrow traditional or popular ideas or institutions.
2. One who destroys sacred religious images. invention. In her book, alchemy is the operative word.