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Dr John Emerson

Telephone +61 8 8313 4371
Position Director
Building Barr Smith Library
Floor/Room 4 15
Campus North Terrace
Org Unit University of Adelaide Press

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Biography/ Background

John's formal studies are in French, specialising in cinema. He completed a postgraduate degree at the Université de Paris III - Sorbonne Nouvelle and a PhD at Adelaide comparing French and Australian representations of colonial history in contemporary cinema.

In 2002 he was commissioned to write a series of books on South Australian legal history and the Law School has provided him with a base. The first two were published in 2006 (see list below). The most recent, a biography of poet and former Chief Justice John Bray, was published in 2015.

With the support of the Vice-Chancellor and the University Library, John established the University of Adelaide Press in 2008, which publishes scholarly books by the University's staff.  He is currently the Director of the Press.

John is also a Visiting Research Fellow with the Law school.

Feature Article in The Australian Higher Ed 24 June 2015 on the achievement of 500,000 PDF downloads for the University of Adelaide Press.

Research Interests

The South Australian legal profession, especially the bar and the judiciary.  French cinema.


John published numerous articles and book chapters as postgraduate student in journals in Australia, France, Belgium, UK and USA.

Since 2002 he has published around 100 articles in the Law Society's Bulletin and in The Advertiser on legal history topics, including biographical profiles of judges.

Refereed Chapter

'Did Blackstone get the Gallic Shrug?'. Chapter 12 in Wilfrid Prest (ed.) Blackstone and his Commentaries, Hart Publishing, Oxford, 2009 (pages 185-198).  Reprinted 2014.



First Among Equals. Adelaide: University of Adelaide Barr Smith Press, 2006.

History of the Independent Bar of South Australia. Adelaide: University of Adelaide Barr Smith Press, 2006.

John Jefferson Bray: a Vigilant Life. Clayton: Monash University Publishing, 2015. Foreword by the Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG


Professional Associations

Association Culturelle Franco-Australienne

Professional Historians Association (SA)

Community Engagement

John Bray Law Network, University of Adelaide Alumni

Editorial Committee, Law Society Bulletin, 2006-2012

Entry last updated: Wednesday, 1 Mar 2017

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