CFP: Desire for Narrative in Law and Literature: A Special Session at MLA 2014

Hayden White has suggested “proper histories” narrate a changing relationship between a subject and a legal regime. As White states, “Where there is no rule of law, there can be neither a subject nor the kind of event which lends itself to narrative representation.” For White, law is essential to narrative, historical or otherwise. The converse, however, is also true: narrative is essential to law.

We seek participants for a roundtable discussion and invite 250 word proposals from scholars who study law and literature to explore topics such as the aesthetics of both modes of cultural production, the representation or influence of legal narratives in literature, and the influence of literary narrative strategies on legal decision making. Questions to be considered and addressed in brief, five-minute position statements might include, but are not limited to:

• What constitutes a legal narrative and who are its authors?
• What are the formal and aesthetic characteristics of legal narratives, and how do they compare with the formal and aesthetic characteristics of literary narrative?
• How have legal narratives evolved in response to cultural, political, or technological shifts, and with what consequences?
• How is the teaching of law or literature, or both, affected by calling into question the distinctions we usually make between legal and literary texts?
• What are the poetics of justice implicit in legal and literary narratives?
• Of what use are literary methodologies in the study of law, and vice versa?

Please submit proposals and a short bio by 5:00 pm on March 15, 2013

(HT: Legal History Blog)


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