Professor’s New Casebook Analyzes Land Use Conflict Depicted in his Recent Novel
The Companion casebook to Bordering on Madness is the first law school casebook of its kind

WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 29, 2008 – Professor Andrew F. Popper’s new innovative casebook A Companion to Bordering on Madness: An American Land Use Tale delves into the legal, political, and strategic issues raised in his recent novel, Bordering on Madness, a tale about a university and a community who go to war over a building proposal.

Using the plot of the novel as a starting point, the Companion provides commentary as well as numerous edited cases and articles to discuss the conflict between those who seek to develop land and those who oppose that development.

“The notion of using fiction as a building block to teach a field is fairly common – but the idea of a casebook that addresses in depth the areas raised in a full-length novel is unique,” said Popper. “The novel touches on cutting-edge legal issues that could not be explored adequately. The Companion provides a wonderful opportunity to set out those issues and strategic challenges and explore the pertinent judicial decisions and scholarship in the field, something that cannot – and should not – be done with fiction.”

The story in the novel is a familiar one in higher education and many other fields. Battles between local residents and universities or other institutions are legendary and the novel and Companion build on one of those legends: the complex dispute some years ago between American University Washington College of Law and some of the surrounding residential communities over the construction of a new law school building.

“At any one time, throughout the United States, there are thousands of battles of this type,” Popper said. “Universities, hospitals, churches, commercial developers and even homeowners who want to put an addition onto their homes find quickly that owning land does not mean necessarily having the right to use land – even when those uses are perfectly consistent with the laws and regulations applicable to the subject property.”

The Companion discusses situations when one person or group has the right to limit, control, or even prevent the lawful use of property by another and why these disputes degenerate into bitter and personal struggles so quickly. It is available through the publisher or at

Companion is co-authored by Professor Patricia E. Salkin of Albany Law School and Washington land use lawyer David Avitable. Both Bordering on Madness and Companion are published by Carolina Academic Press.