Professor of Law and English; Director, Centre for Innovation Law & Policy

Jackman Law Building              
Room 472
78 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5 

Tel.: 416-978-0293

Faculty Assistant:   Nancy Bueler 

See also Prof. Stern's pages on SSRN,, google scholar, & ORCID or scroll down for recent publications; for a full list, please see this publications page.

B.A. (Yale), Ph.D., English (UC Berkeley), J.D. (Yale), member of the Washington, D.C. Bar. While in law school he was Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities. After law school he clerked for Ronald M. Gould on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, practiced litigation at Shea & Gardner (now Goodwin Procter) in Washington, D.C., and then served as a Climenko Fellow and Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School.

Prof. Stern teaches and researches in the areas of law and literature, legal history, law and sexuality, and criminal law.  His research focuses on the evolution of legal doctrines and methods in relation to literary and intellectual history. Current research topics include the development of the "reasonable man" standard (and its precursors and analogues) since the eighteenth century, and the changing conception of legal fictions between the early modern period and the present. He is co-chair of the Critical Analysis of Law Workshop, and is co-editor (with Markus Dubber) of Critical Analysis of Law. His research has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Foundation for Legal Research, and the American Society for Legal History.

He is co-editor (with Robert Spoo) of the series Law and Literature, published by Oxford University Press. If you would like to learn more about the series, or to submit a book proposal, please see OUP's web page for the series.

In 2012 Prof. Stern was the recipient of the SLS Partnership Award, bestowed by the U of T Students' Law Society in recognition of faculty members who have shown a commitment to student-friendly initiatives and student advocacy.

Ph.D. & S.J.D. advising

Prof. Stern supervises dissertation projects related to legal history, law and literature, eighteenth-century literature, criminal law, and law & sexuality. Recent and current projects include:  Michael Donnelly, For All Peoples and All Nations: Anglophone Literature and the Imaginative Work of International Law (1884-2017); Daniel Kennedy, Legal and Literary Fictions at the Early Modern Inns of Court; Michel Reid, Gay Lives: Literature, Secrecy, and the Problem of Evidence in Eighteenth-Century England; Daniel Del Gobbo, Feminism Goes to College: The Law and Politics of Campus Sexual Violence.

J.D., Yale, 2002
Ph.D. (English) U.C. Berkeley, 1999
Selected publications

The Oxford Handbook of Law and Humanities (2019) (ed. Simon Stern, Bernadette Meyler, and Maksymilian Del Mar)

"Fanny Hill and the "Laws of Decency": Investigating Obscenity in Eighteenth-Century England," Eighteenth-Century Life 43 (2019), 162-87

"The Legal Imagination in Historical Perspective," in Amalia Amaya and Maksymilian Del Mar, eds., Virtue, Emotion, and Imagination in Legal Reasoning (Hart, 2020)

"Literary Analysis of Law," in The Oxford Handbook of Legal History, ed. Markus D, Dubber & Christopher Tomlins (Oxford University Press, 2018), 63-78

"Narrative in the Legal Text: Judicial Opinions and Their Narratives," in Narrative and Metaphor in the Law, ed. Michael Hanne & Robert Weisberg (Cambridge University Press, 2018), 121-39 [pdf]

Co-Editor (with Nan Goodman), The Routledge Research Companion to Law and Humanities in Nineteenth-Century America (Routledge, 2017) [on google books]

"Wilde's Obscenity Effect: Influence and Immorality in The Picture of Dorian Gray," Review of English Studies 68 (2017), 756-72

"Legal and Literary Fictions," in New Directions in Law and Literature, ed. Bernadette Meyler & Elizabeth Anker (Oxford University Press, 2017), 313-26 [on google books

"Margins of Authority: Coke's Institutes and the Epistemology of the String Cite," Law and Humanities 11(1) (2017), 121-36

"R. v. Jones (1703): The Origins of the Reasonable Person," in Philip Handler, Henry Mares, & Ian Williams, eds., Landmark Cases in Criminal Law (Hart, 2017), 59-79

Ed. & Intro., William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, Book II: Of the Rights of Things (The Oxford Edition of Blackstone, Oxford University Press, 2016) (on google books) [an excerpt from the Introduction is here]

Research Materials on Law and Literature

  • Ideas for paper topics (pdf)

  • Legal Novels database (law, lawyers, judges, and trials in English & American fiction, circa 1850-1920)

Casebook: Basic Principles of Canadian Civil Procedure (pdf, approx 450 pages)

Work in Progress

"Proximate Causation in Legal Historiography," forthcoming in History & Theory

"Prescription and Proof in Legal Scholarship" (draft on the role of prescriptive arguments and forensic modes of analysis in legal scholarship)

Legal Fictions and the Legal Imagination (book-length study of fictions in the common law since the seventeenth century)

“Artistic Copyright and Derivative Rights in Nineteenth-Century England” (on changing views about infringement in visual copyright)