Christopher Tomlins
  • Affiliated Research Professor
Joint Appointment
Elizabeth Josselyn Boalt Professor of Law, Berkeley Law
Affiliated Faculty in the Program in Critical Theory, University of California, Berkeley
Ph.D. in History, Johns Hopkins University
M.A. in History, Johns Hopkins University
M.A. In Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, Oxford University
M.A. in American Studies, University of Sussex
B.A. in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, Oxford University

Christopher L. Tomlins

  • Affiliated Research Professor
ABF Researcher

Christopher L. Tomlins is an Affiliated Research Professor at the American Bar Foundation and the Elizabeth Josselyn Boalt Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, where he teaches in the Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program and the Legal Studies Program.  Previously, he was Reader in Legal Studies at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. In 2016, he was elected an Honorary Fellow of the American Society for Legal History.

A legal historian, Tomlins’s research interests range broadly—from sixteenth-century England to twentieth-century America, from the legal culture of work and labor to the interrelations of law and literature, and from the jurisprudence of Francisco de Vitoria of Salamanca to the critical theory and historical materialism of Walter Benjamin. He has written or edited twelve books, including, most recently, In the Matter of Nat Turner: A Speculative History (Princeton University Press, 2020). His 2010 book, Freedom Bound: Law, Labor, and Civic Identity in Colonizing English America, 1580-1865 (Cambridge University Press, 2010) was awarded Columbia University’s prestigious annual Bancroft Prize, as well as the Hurst Prize of the Law and Society Association, the John Phillip Reid Prize of the American Society for Legal History, and a Choice “Outstanding Academic Title” distinction. Other recent books include The Oxford Handbook of Legal History (Oxford University Press, 2018), Searching for Contemporary Legal Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2017), the multi-volume Cambridge History of Law in America (Cambridge University Press, 2008), and The United States Supreme Court: The Pursuit of Justice (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2005).  Tomlins has also published some two hundred chapters, articles, and working paper. From 1995 until 2004, he was editor of the Law and History Review.  From 2005 until 2009, he was first coeditor (with Jack Heinz) then sole editor of Law & Social Inquiry. He also edits the Cambridge University Press book series Cambridge Historical Studies in American Law and Society, and coedits the Cambridge University Press series New Histories of American Law.