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Law 325 - Law, Language and Literature

(half unit in 2nd term)

Convenor

Dr Sarah Beresford

(This module will run if approved by University)

This module concentrates on possible relationships between law and literature. It will focus on certain literary texts to examine the way(s) in which fiction exerts a powerful influence on the development of popular understanding of the lawyer and how the law works. The aim of this module is to introduce the students to how the language(s) of law and literature lay claim to distinct kinds 'knowledge'? The module takes law as an object of study and seeks to examine the relationships between law, language and literature, examining how literary works can inform the reader and produce 'knowledge as to law and lawyers. It will also explore the concept of law as literature and to specific instances where literature has come under legal scrutiny. It will also challenge the assumption that law is a social practice which is isolated from the rest of culture.

This course is available to final year students only.

Major themes will include:

  • Introduction to the course, and general overview (including an introduction to the concept of law as a cultural normative.)
  • The depiction of law and lawyers in fiction;
  • Relationship between the interpretation of legal and literary texts;
  • Examination of the question of both 'law-in-literature' and 'law-as-literature.'

Assessment

Each student will be required to produce 1 x 3,500 word essay. The topic can be of the students' own choosing. The aim is to assess the students' ability to evaluate academic literature and demonstrate subject understanding and knowledge. Reflection and Evaluation sheets will be used to facilitate students’ ability to independently evaluate and assess their own work.

Recommended Reading

Dickens, Charles. Bleak House. Wordsworth Editions Ltd; New Ed edition (1993).

Kafka, Franz., The Trial [Breon Mitchell translation] (Schocken Books, 1999)

Lee, Harper, To Kill a Mockingbird (Warner Books 1960).

Orwell, George. 1984. Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (2004).

Posner, Richard, Law and Literature Revised and Enlarged Edition , Harvard University Press. 1998.

Shapiro, Fred., and Garry, Jane., eds, Trial and Error: An Oxford Anthology of Legal Stories, (Oxford, 1998).

Villiers Gemmette, Elizabeth, ed., Law in Literature: An Annotated Bibliography of Law-Related Works, (Troy, New York: Whitston Publishing Co., 1998).

Books may be published before the course starts in January 2009 so students may wish to wait until the Law 325 Course Handbook has been published, which will include the latest information on books, before purchasing a text.

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