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Miller, William Ian

Thomas G. Long Professor of Law

411 Hutchins Hall

William I. Miller, the Thomas G. Long Professor of Law, has been a member of the Michigan Law faculty since 1984. His research centers on saga Iceland, from whence the materials studied in his course Bloodfeuds and which provides the sources for his Bloodtaking and Peacemaking: Feud, Law, and Society in Saga Iceland (1990). He also has written about emotions, mostly unpleasant ones involving self-assessment, and select vices and virtues. Thus his books: Humiliation (1993); The Anatomy of Disgust (1997)—named the best book of 1997 in anthropology/sociology by the Association of American Publishers; The Mystery of Courage (2000); Faking It (2003), which deals with anxieties of role, identity, and posturings of authenticity; and Losing It (2011), where he turns a jaundiced eye toward aging and decline. The Chicago Tribune named Losing It to its list of best books of the year; Macleans magazine of Canada also listed it in its top 10 nonfiction books of 2011. Eye for an Eye (2006) is an extended treatment of the law of the talion. Audun and the Polar Bear: Luck, Law, and Largesse in a Medieval Tale of Risky Business (2008) offers an expansive interpretation of a superbly crafted short Icelandic tale. His most recent book appeared in 2014: "Why is your axe bloody:" A Reading of Njáls Saga. He earned his BA from the University of Wisconsin and received both a PhD in English and a JD from Yale. He also has been a visiting professor at Yale, the University of Chicago, the University of Bergen, the University of Tel Aviv, and Harvard, and in 2008, was the Carnegie Centenary Trust Professor at the University of St. Andrews, where he is now an honorary professor of history.

Video: Professor Miller discusses his book Losing It.

Visit Professor Miller's homepage.

Recent Publications

More Publications...

​"Feeling Another's Pain: Sympathy and Psychology Saga Style." Eur. Rev. 22, no. 1 (2014): 55-63.​​​
Full Text: Cambridge (UMich users)

'Why is your axe bloody?': A Reading of Njáls Saga. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.​​

"The Question of Courage." SGI Quarterly 69 (2012): 14-7.
Full Text: WWW

​"Conscience, Interest, Side-Switching, and Laxdæla Saga." In The Creation of Medieval Northern Europe: Christianisation, Social Transformations, and Historiography; Essays in Honour of Sverre Bagge, edited by L. Melve and S. Sønnesyn, 373-88. Oslo: Dreyer Forlag, 2012.

"The Messenger." In Frieden stiften: Vermittlung und Konfliktlösung vom Mittelalter bis heute, edited by G. Althoff, 19-36. Darmstadt: WBG, 2011.

Losing It: in which an aging professor laments his shrinking brain, which he flatters himself formerly did him noble service. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011.

"Losing It." Mich. Q. Rev. 50, no. 2 (2011): 153-67. (Excerpt from author's book Losing It: In Which an Aging Professor Laments His Shrinking Brain, Which He Flatters Himself Formerly Did Him Noble Service. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011.)
Full Text: ProQuest (UMich users) | ProQuest

"Threat." In Feud, Violence and Practice: Essays in Medieval Studies in Honor of Stephen D. White, edited by B.S.Tuten and T.L.Billado, 9-28. Farnham, England: Ashgate, 2010.

"Hatred." In The Oxford Companion to Emotion and the Affective Sciences, edited by D.Sander and K.R.Scherer, 203-4. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2009.

"Deceit in War and Trade." In The Philosophy of Deception, edited by C.Martin, 49-66. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2009.

"Death, Danger, and ... Dieting?" In Character (2009): 4-11.
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