Dr John Emerson

Dr John Emerson
 Position Visiting Research Fellow
 Org Unit Adelaide Law School
 Email john.emerson@adelaide.edu.au
 Telephone +61 8 8313 5817
 Mobile +61 4 0382 0720
 Location Floor/Room 4 05a ,  Ligertwood ,   North Terrace
  • Biography/ Background

    Dr John Emerson is a Visiting Research Fellow with the Law school.

    John's formal studies are in French, eventually specialising in cinema and how it portrays history to contemporary viewers. 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. His research interests continue in the history of the judiciary and bar in South Australia and wider afield, on the influence of William Blackstone's Commentaries on the French Revolution and its subsequent republics.

    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 was the Director of the Press until it closed operations at the end of 2018.


    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.  

    The influence of William Blackstone's Commentaries on the French revolution and development of the Republic.

  • Publications


    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

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Entry last updated: Tuesday, 27 Aug 2019

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