Our Students - Profiles

Sara Ludin


Year: Advanced to Candidacy (ABD) - JSP


B.A. in Philosophy, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire (2008)
Coursework in Soziokulturelle Studien, Europa-Universitaet Viadrina, Frankfurt/Oder, Germany (2009-2010)


Legal history; religion, secularism, and theories of secularization; early modern Europe, especially the German lands; agonistic pluralism and difference; Islam and modernity; critical theory

Field Exams:
European Legal History
Law and Religion

David Lieberman
Winnifred Sullivan
Christopher Tomlins
Jonathan Sheehan

Currently: Visiting Research Fellow at Brown University (Faculty Advisor: Tara Nummedal)


Fulbright Fellowship, Berlin, Germany (2008-2009)
Dartmouth General Fellowship, Berlin, Germany (2009-2010)
FLAS for Arabic Study (Summer 2012)
Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor (2014)

Employment Experiences:

Graduate Student Instructor "European Legal History," Fall 2011
Graduate Student Instructor "Comparative Perspectives on Norms and Legal Traditions," Spring 2012 and Spring 2013
Graduate Student Instructor "American Legal and Constitutional History," Fall 2013
Graduate Student Researcher "Law and Humanities Faculty Strategic Working Group," under Marianne Constable, Spring 2014

Dissertation Abstract:

A Matter of Religion? Peace, Property, and the Politics of Difference in a Sixteenth-Century German Imperial Courtroom.

This dissertation offers a genealogy of “religion” as a modern legal category by investigating how the Protestant Reformation unfolded in German civil law courtrooms between 1520 and 1555. Case files from the Imperial Chamber Court and a recently discovered cache of judges’ notes are at the heart of the project. Central to these cases was the question: is the dispute a “matter of religion” (Religionsache)? Close readings reveal that the term “religion,” though borrowed from ancient Roman law, and intended to clarify the jurisdictional competence of the court, had gained a new, distinctly unsettled meaning in this context of early confessional difference. The cases show that routine efforts at settling—through existing law on peace, property and jurisdiction—individual disputes that had arisen from the theological divide generated a patchwork jurisprudence that radically recast familiar categories and relationships. By focusing on the early, messy years of the Reformation, this dissertation highlights the legal creativity and improvisation that this new agonistic difference elicited. Inspired by the insights of a thriving critical theory literature on modern secularism, and equipped with specialist archival and legal-historical expertise, I hope to inform contemporary debates on law and religion by unearthing the full complexity of this inherited legal category.