One of the great triumphs of nineteenth-century philology was the development of the wide array of comparative data that underpins the grammars of the Old Germanic dialects, such as Old English, Old Icelandic, Old Saxon, and Gothic. These led to the reconstruction of Common Germanic and Proto-Germanic languages. Many individuals have forgotten that scholars of the same period were interested in reconstructing the body of ancient law that was supposedly shared by all speakers of Germanic. Stefan Jurasinski's Ancient Privileges: Beowulf, Law, and the Making of the Germanic Antiquity recounts how the work of nineteenth-century legal historians actually influenced the editing of Old English texts, most notably Beowulf, in ways that are still preserved in our editions. This situation has been a major contributor to the archaizing of Beowulf. In turn, Jurasinski's careful analysis of its assumptions in light of contemporary research offers a model for scholars to apply to a number of other textual artifacts that have been affected by what was known as the historische Rechtsschule. At the very least, it will change the way you think about Beowulf.
Carol Weisbrod uses a variety of stories to raise important questions about how society, through law, defines relationships in the family. Beginning with a story most familiar from the opera Madame Butterfly, Weisbrod addresses issues such as marriage, divorce, parent-child relations and abuses, and non-marital intimate contact. Each chapter works with fiction or narratives inspired by biography or myth, ranging from the Book of Esther to the stories of Kafka. Weisbrod frames the book with running commentary on variations of the Madame Butterfly story, showing the ways in which fiction better expresses the complexities of intimate lives than does the language of the law.
Butterfly, the Bride looks at law from the outside, using narrative to provide a fresh perspective on the issues of law and social structure---and individual responses to law. This book thoroughly explores relationships between inner and public lives by examining what is ordinarily classified as the sphere of private life---the world of family relationships.
Carol Weisbrod is Ellen Ash Peters Professor of Law at the University of Connecticut. Her other books include The Boundaries of Utopia and Emblems of Pluralism.
Carrie Hyde Harvard University Press, 2018 Library of Congress JK1759.H94 2018 | Dewey Decimal 323.60973
No Constitutional definition of citizenship existed until the 14th Amendment in 1868. Carrie Hyde looks at the period between the Revolution and the Civil War when the cultural and juridical meaning of citizenship was still up for grabs. She recovers numerous speculative traditions that made and remade citizenship’s meaning in this early period.
Just as Plato drafted a vision of an ideal state in his Republic and followed that up with detailed provisions in his Laws, so Cicero -- after writing a Republic -- wanted to provide legislation for his ideal state and wrote de Legibus (the Laws) as a sequel. But while Cicero's Republic was set shortly before the death of its speaker, Scipio Africanus, in 129 b.c., his de Legibus was set in his own lifetime, thus enabling him to comment on current political events and trends. Written in the final years of the Roman Republic, de Legibus is as a work that gives Cicero's own diagnosis of the ills that had befallen the Roman state and what might be done to cure them. It is thus a document crucial to our understanding of one of the most turbulent periods of Roman history.
Surprisingly, de Legibus has been one of Cicero's most neglected works. Andrew R. Dyck's commentary is the first to appear on the complete work in well over one hundred years. Dyck provides a detailed interpretation and sets the essay into the context of the politics and philosophical thought of its time. While previous commentaries focused primarily on grammar and textual criticism, this one also seeks to relate Cicero's text to the political, philosophical, and religious trends of his day. The author identifies the influences on Cicero's thinking and analyzes the relation of this theoretical treatise to his other works. This commentary is based on a new text, worked out in consultations between the author and Jonathan Powell of Royal Holloway, London.
Andrew Dyck is Professor of Classics, University of California at Los Angeles.
In her engaging book, Constructing the Enemy, Rajini Srikanth probes the concept of empathy, attempting to understand its different types and how it is—or isn't—generated and maintained in specific circumstances.
Using literary texts to illuminate issues of power and discussions of law, Srikanth focuses on two case studies— the internment of Japanese citizens and Japanese Americans in World War II, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the detainment of Muslim Americans and individuals from various nations in the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay.
Through primary documents and interviews that reveal why and how lawyers become involved in defending those who have been designated “enemies,” Srikanth explores the complex conditions under which engaged citizenship emerges. Constructing the Enemy probes the seductive promise of legal discourse and analyzes the emergence and manifestation of empathy in lawyers and other concerned citizens and the wider consequences of this empathy on the institutions that regulate our lives.
Over the last few decades, Victorian scholars have produced many nuanced studies connecting the politics of crime to the generic developments of the novel—and vice versa. Ellen L. O’Brien’s Crime in Verse grants the same attention and status to poetic representations of crime. Considering the literary achievements and cultural engagements of poetry while historicizing murder’s entanglement in legal fictions, punitive practices, medical theories, class conflicts, and gender codes, O’Brien argues that shifting approaches to poetry and conflicted understandings of murder allowed poets to align problems of legal and literary interpretation in provocative, disruptive, and innovative ways.
Developing focused analyses of generic and discursive meanings, individual chapters examine the classed politics of crime and punishment in the broadside ballad, the epistemological tensions of homicidal lunacy and criminal responsibility in the dramatic monologue, and the legal and ideological frictions of domestic violence in the verse novel and verse drama. Their juxtaposition of the rhymes of anonymous street balladeers, the underexamined verse of “minor” poets, and the familiar poems of canonical figures suggests the interactive and intertextual relationships informing poetic agendas and political arguments. As it simultaneously reconsiders the institutional and ideological status of murder and the aesthetic and political interests of poetry, Crime in Verse offers new ways of thinking about Victorian poetry’s contents and contexts.
From the origins of modern copyright in early eighteenth-century culture to the efforts to represent nature and death in postmodern fiction, this book explores a series of problems regarding the containment of representation. Stewart focuses on specific cases of "crimes of writing"—the forgeries of George Psalmanazar; the production of "fakelore"; the "ballad scandals" of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; the imposture of Thomas Chatterton; and contemporary legislation regarding graffiti and pornography. She emphasizes the issues that arise once language is seen as a matter of property, and authorship is viewed as a matter of originality. Finally, Stewart demonstrates that crimes of writing are delineated by the law because they specifically undermine the status of the law itself: the crimes illuminate the irreducible fact that law is written and therefore subject to temporality and interpretation. This valuable and pioneering work, originally published in 1991 (Oxford University Press), will be of interest to literary and legal theorists, folklorists, anthropologists, and scholars of eighteenth-century and postmodern culture.
To be or not to be—who asks this question today, and how? What does it mean to issue, or respond to, an appeal for the right to die? In A Death of One’s Own, the first sustained literary study of the right to die, Jared Stark takes up these timely questions by testing predominant legal understandings of assisted suicide and euthanasia against literary reflections on modern death from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Rigorously interdisciplinary and lucidly argued, Stark’s wide-ranging discussion sheds critical light on the disquieting bioethical and biopolitical dilemmas raised by contemporary forms of medical technology and legal agency.
More than a survey or work of advocacy, A Death of One’s Own examines the consequences and limits of the three reasons most often cited for supporting a person’s right to die: that it is justified as an expression of personal autonomy or self-ownership; that it constitutes an act of self-authorship, of “choosing a final chapter” in one’s life; and that it enables what has come to be called “death with dignity.” Probing the intersections of law and literature, Stark interweaves close discussion of major legal, political, and philosophical arguments with revealing readings of literary and testimonial texts by writers including Balzac, Melville, Benjamin, and Améry.
A thought-provoking work that will be of interest to those concerned with law and humanities, biomedical ethics, cultural history, and human rights, A Death of One’s Own opens new and suggestive paths for thinking about the history of modern death as well as the unsettled future of the right to die.
The story of America’s earliest extant play begins with a petty crime—a crime that would have passed largely unnoticed had it not been for one fact: it prompted a beleaguered royal governor of one of Britain’s colonies to lash out at his enemies by writing a biting satire. Androboros, A Bographical [sic] Farce in Three Acts (1715), is universally acknowledged as the first play both written and printed in America. Its significance stems not simply from its publication but from its eventual impact. The play inadvertently laid the foundation for one of the defining rights of the nation that would eventually emerge some seventy-five years later—the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, guaranteeing a free press and freedom of expression.
Androboros was not just the first of its kind, it was also ahead of its time in many ways, preceding the harsh political satires and farces of the later eighteenth century by some fifty years. Such plays served a small but essential role in promoting political thought among the colonists. Written by anonymous authors and passed from hand to hand, these short, crude, and often bawdy plays and dialogues were rarely acted due to their inflammatory lampoonery. Nevertheless, they provided an opportunity for disgruntled colonists to vent their grievances and promote their ideas to fellow citizens. The farces of the late eighteenth century drove home the meaning and message of the American Revolution.
Equally significant is that Androboros may have influenced a few of the key political discourses published in the 1730s, and these works in turn may well have shaped the future of the American political landscape for the next several decades and even into the modern era. But as a closet drama intended only to be read by close friends and political supporters, this play has languished as a minor footnote in American intellectual history. Scholarly research published to date has been, for the most part, inadequate and occasionally inaccurate. This study remedies that oversight, providing a full analysis as well as an annotated typescript and facsimiles of the original printing.
In this study of literature and law before and since the Civil War, Stephen M. Best shows how American conceptions of slavery, property, and the idea of the fugitive were profoundly interconnected. The Fugitive's Properties uncovers a poetics of intangible, personified property emerging out of antebellum laws, circulating through key nineteenth-century works of literature, and informing cultural forms such as blackface minstrelsy and early race films.
Best also argues that legal principles dealing with fugitives and indebted persons provided a sophisticated precursor to intellectual property law as it dealt with rights in appearance, expression, and other abstract aspects of personhood. In this conception of property as fleeting, indeed fugitive, American law preserved for much of the rest of the century slavery's most pressing legal imperative: the production of personhood as a market commodity. By revealing the paradoxes of this relationship between fugitive slave law and intellectual property law, Best helps us to understand how race achieved much of its force in the American cultural imagination. A work of ambitious scope and compelling cross-connections, The Fugitive's Properties sets new agendas for scholars of American literature and legal culture.
History, Memory, and the Law
Austin Sarat and Thomas R. Kearns, Editors University of Michigan Press, 2002 Library of Congress KF389.H54 1999 | Dewey Decimal 349.73
The essays in this book examine law as an active participant in the process through which history is written and memory is constructed. Instead of seeing law as a "victim" of history, the writers treat law as an author of history, not just in the instrumental sense in which law can be said to make a difference in society, but in the ways that law constructs and uses history.
Law looks to the past as it speaks to present needs. In the production of judicial opinions--supposedly definitive statements of what the law is--judges reconstruct law's past, tracing out lines of legal precedent that arguably "compel" their decisions. These essays consider how law treats history, how history appears in legal decisions, and how the authority of history is used to authorize legal decisions.
Furthermore, law plays a role in the construction of memory. The writers here ask how law remembers and records the past as well as how it helps us to remember our past. Law in the modern era is one of the most important of our society's technologies for preserving memory. In helping to construct our memory in certain ways law participates in the writing of our collective history. It plays a crucial role in knitting together our past, present, and future.
The essays in this volume present grounded examinations of particular problems, places, and practices and address the ways in which memory works in and through law, the sites of remembrance that law provides, the battles against forgetting that are fought in and around those sites, and the resultant role law plays in constructing history. The writers also inquire about the way history is mobilized in legal decision making, the rhetorical techniques for marshalling and for overcoming precedent, and the different histories that are written in and through the legal process.
The contributors are Joan Dayan, Soshana Felman, Dominic La Capra, Reva Siegel, Brook Thomas, and G. Edward White.
Austin Sarat is William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science and Professor of Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought, Amherst College. He is past President of the Law and Society Association and current President of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities. Thomas R. Kearns is William H. Hastie Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought, Amherst College.
"Contemporary theory has usefully analyzed how alternative modes of interpretation produce different meanings, how reading itself is constituted by the variable perspectives of readers, and how these perspectives are in turn defined by prejudices, ideologies, interests, and so forth. Some theorists gave argued persuasively that textual meaning, in literature and in literary interpretation, is structured by repression and forgetting, by what the literary or critical text does not say as much as by what it does. All these claims are directly relevant to legal hermeneutics, and thus it is no surprise that legal theorists have recently been turning to literary theory for potential insight into the interpretation of law. This collection of essays is designed to represent the especially rich interactive that has taken place between legal and literary hermeneutics during the past ten years."
Law and Literature is the only book-length treatment of a widely popular subject that is drawing considerable academic attention. Leading legal scholar Richard Posner believes that courses and scholarship in law and literature provide an attractive alternative to courses and scholarship in jurisprudence (philosophy of law), especially since the study of literature can assist lawyers and judges by sharpening their rhetorical skills. The revised edition features considerable new material, including a consideration of plagiarism as well as discussions of novels that grapple with issues very pertinent today, such as illegal immigration, global warming, bioterrorism, surveillance, artificial reproduction, and virtual reality. Posner also discusses the role of the law in popular literature, movies, and television.
The seventeenth century saw some of the most important jurisprudential changes in England’s history, yet the period has been largely overlooked in the rich field of literature and law. Helping to fill this gap, The Legal Epic is the first book to situate the great poet and polemicist John Milton at the center of late seventeenth-century legal history.
Alison A. Chapman argues that Milton’s Paradise Lost sits at the apex of the early modern period’s long fascination with law and judicial processes. Milton’s world saw law and religion as linked disciplines and thought therefore that in different ways, both law and religion should reflect the will of God. Throughout Paradise Lost, Milton invites his readers to judge actions using not only reason and conscience but also core principles of early modern jurisprudence. Law thus informs Milton’s attempt to “justify the ways of God to men” and points readers toward the types of legal justice that should prevail on earth.
Adding to the growing interest in the cultural history of law, The Legal Epic shows that England’s preeminent epic poem is also a sustained reflection on the role law plays in human society.
In 2013, an international group of jurists gathered in London to mark the 40th anniversary of the publication of James Boyd White’s The Legal Imagination, the book that is widely credited with instigating and inspiring the modern “law and literature” and “law and humanities” movements in university teaching and research. The authors of each of the twelve essays in this collection offer a personal reflection on teaching, researching, and practicing law in the light of White’s invitation to reimagine the law and our own relationship with it. Each is therefore a personal response to the challenge of bringing legal work to life and life to legal work. Topics covered range from rhetoric to human rights, from silence to slow reading, from film to material culture, and from the natural world to the realm of religious experience. This book hopes to make life in the law more meaningful for the scholar, the judge, the attorney, and the student, following the sometimes hard path that James Boyd White set for himself to follow.
The Oracle and the Curse
Caleb Smith Harvard University Press, 2013 Library of Congress PS169.L37S63 2013 | Dewey Decimal 810.9355
Caleb Smith explores the confessions, trial reports, maledictions, and martyr narratives that juxtaposed law and conscience in antebellum America’s court of public opinion and shows how writers portrayed struggles for justice as clashes between human law and higher authority, giving voice to a moral protest that transformed American literature.
Today, copyright is everywhere, surrounded by a thicket of no trespassing signs that mark creative work as private property. Caren Irr’s Pink Pirates asks how contemporary novelists—represented by Ursula Le Guin, Andrea Barrett, Kathy Acker, and Leslie Marmon Silko—have read those signs, arguing that for feminist writers in particular copyright often conjures up the persistent exclusion of women from ownership. Bringing together voices from law schools, courtrooms, and the writer's desk, Irr shows how some of the most inventive contemporary feminist novelists have reacted to this history.
Explaining the complex, three-century lineage of Anglo-American copyright law in clear, accessible terms and wrestling with some of copyright law's most deeply rooted assumptions, Irr sets the stage for a feminist reappraisal of the figure of the literary pirate in the late twentieth century—a figure outside the restrictive bounds of U.S. copyright statutes.
Going beyond her readings of contemporary women authors, Irr’s exhaustive history of how women have fared under intellectual property regimes speaks to broader political, social, and economic implications and engages digital-era excitement about the commons with the most utopian and materialist strains in feminist criticism.
English law underwent rapid transformation in the sixteenth century, in response to the Reformation and also to heightened litigation and legal professionalization. As the common law became more comprehensive and systematic, the principle of jurisdiction came under particular strain. When the common law engaged with other court systems in England, when it encountered territories like Ireland and France, or when it confronted the ocean as a juridical space, the law revealed its qualities of ingenuity and improvisation. In other words, as Bradin Cormack argues, jurisdictional crisis made visible the law’s resemblance to the literary arts.
A Power to Do Justice shows how Renaissance writers engaged the practical and conceptual dynamics of jurisdiction, both as a subject for critical investigation and as a frame for articulating literature’s sense of itself. Reassessing the relation between English literature and law from More to Shakespeare, Cormack argues that where literary texts attend to jurisdiction, they dramatize how boundaries and limits are the very precondition of law’s power, even as they clarify the forms of intensification that make literary space a reality.
Tracking cultural responses to Renaissance jurisdictional thinking and legal centralization, A Power to Do Justice makes theoretical, literary-historical, and methodological contributions that set a new standard for law and the humanities and for the cultural history of early modern law and literature.
In Reconstituting Authority, William Moddelmog explores the ways in which American law and literature converged in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Through close readings of significant texts from the era, he reveals not only how novelists invoked specific legal principles and ideals in their fictions but also how they sought to reconceptualize the boundaries of law and literature in ways that transformed previous versions of both legal and literary authority.
Moddelmog does not assume a sharp distinction between literary and legal institutions and practices but shows how writers imagined the two fields as engaged in the same cultural process. He argues that because the law was instrumental in setting the terms by which concepts such as race, gender, nationhood, ownership, and citizenship were defined in the nineteenth century, authors challenging those definitions had to engage the law on its own terrain: to place their work in a dialogue with the law by telling stories that were already authorized (though perhaps suppressed) by legal institutions.
The first half of the book is devoted in separate chapters to William Dean Howells, Helen Hunt Jackson, and Pauline Hopkins. The focus shifts from large theoretical concerns to questions of contract and native sovereignty, to issues of African American citizenship and racial entitlement. In each case the discussion is rooted in a larger consideration of the rule (or misrule) of law.
The second half of the book turns from the rule of law to the issue of property, specifically the Lockean version of the self that tied identity to legal conceptions of property and economic value. In separate discussions of Charles Chesnutt, Edith Wharton, and Theodore Dreiser, Reconstituting Authority reveals authors as closely engaged with those changing perspectives on property and identity, in ways that challenged the racial, gendered, and economic consequences of America's possessive individualism.
Russia's Legal Fictions
Harriet Murav University of Michigan Press, 1998 Library of Congress PG3015.5.L3M87 1998 | Dewey Decimal 891.709355
Legal scholars and literary critics have shown the significance of storytelling, not only as part of the courtroom procedure, but as part of the very foundation of law. Russia's Legal Fictions examines the relationship between law, narrative and authority in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Russia.
The conflict between the Russian writer and the law is a well-known feature of Russian literary life in the past two centuries. With one exception, the authors discussed in this book--Sukhovo-Kobylin, Akhsharumov, Suvorin, and Dostoevsky in the nineteenth century and Solzhenitsyn and Siniavskii in the twentieth--were all put on trial. In Russia's Legal Fictions, Harriet Murav starts with the authors' own writings about their experience with law and explores the history of these Russian literary trials, including censorship, libel cases, and one case of murder, in their specific historical context, showing how particular aspects of the culture of the time relate to the case.
The book explores the specifically Russian literary and political conditions in which writers claim the authority not only as the authors of fiction but as lawgivers in the realm of the real, and in which the government turns to the realm of the literary to exercise its power. The author uses specific aspects of Russian culture, history and literature to consider broader theoretical questions about the relationship between law, narrative, and authority. Murav offers a history of the reception of the jury trial and the development of a professional bar in late Imperial Russia as well as an exploration of theories of criminality, sexuality, punishment, and rehabilitation in Imperial and Soviet Russia.
This book will be of interest to scholars of law and literature and Russian law, history and culture.
Harriet Murav is Associate Professor of Russian and Comparative Literature, University of California at Davis.
Did 19th-century American women have money of their own? To answer this question, Women, Money, and the Law looks at the public and private stories of individual women within the context of American culture, assessing how legal and cultural traditions affected women's lives, particularly with respect to class and racial differences, and analyzing the ways in which women were involved in economic matters. Joyce Warren has uncovered a vast, untapped archive of legal documents from the New York Supreme Court that had been expunged from the official record. By exploring hundreds of court cases involving women litigants between 1845 and 1875--women whose stories had, in effect, been erased from history--and by studying the lives and works of a wide selection of 19th-century women writers, Warren has found convincing evidence of women's involvement with money. The court cases show that in spite of the most egregious gender restrictions of law and custom, many 19th-century women lived independently, coping with the legal and economic restraints of their culture while making money for themselves and often for their families as well. They managed their lives and their money with courage and tenacity and fractured constructed gender identities by their lived experience. Many women writers, even when they did not publicly advocate economic independence for women, supported themselves and their families throughout their writing careers and in their fiction portrayed the importance of money in women's lives. Women from all backgrounds--some defeated through ignorance and placidity, others as ruthless and callous as the most hardened businessmen--were in fact very much a part of the money economy. Together, the evidence of the court cases and the writers runs counter to the official narrative, which scripted women as economically dependent and financially uninvolved. Warren provides an illuminating counternarrative that significantly questions contemporary assumptions about the lives of 19th-century women. Women, Money, and the Law is an important corrective to the traditional view and will fascinate scholars and students in women's studies, literary studies, and legal history as well as the general reader.