December 19, 2006

Fellowship Opportunity


The Center for the Study of Law and Culture at Columbia University invites applications for residential fellowships for the 2007-2008 academic year to undertake research, writing and discussion in ways that span traditional academic disciplines. The CSLC welcomes scholars from any field who are interested in spending the academic year in residence at Columbia Law School working on scholarly projects relating to the CSLC's 2007-2008 theme: Executive Power.

We aim to appoint fellows whose scholarship addresses the critical and legal implications of expanding executive power not merely from the perspective of the state—such as the Bush administration's celebrated attempt to expand executive privilege vis-à-vis the other branches of US government—but from the perspective of power more generally. Since the post-structural assault on theories of power that posited it as emanating from a concentrated source, critical theory has conceptualized power as dispersed, capillary, and simultaneously productive and repressive. What might be the ramifications on legal and critical thought and practice at the intersection of new attempts to concentrate institutionally various forms and careers of power? We invite in particular scholarship whose focus is outside the US and lies at the critical conjuncture of law and culture. Fellows will be required to present an original paper from their research and to participate in a year long colloquium on the same topic.

The Law & Culture Fellowship is available to senior graduate students and post-doctoral candidates, including untenured faculty.

Founded in the fall of 2000, the Center for the Study of Law and Culture is an initiative at Columbia Law School designed to facilitate interdisciplinary study, research and scholarship on the intersections of law and culture. Our goal is to make the CSLC an institutional site for coordinating and coalescing the important, yet dispersed, interrogations of the relationship between law and culture that are already being undertaken across disciplines at Columbia University. By promoting and providing a home for cross-disciplinary engagement and collaboration, the CSLC will enrich each of our individual projects in law and culture studies.

Fellows will receive a stipend of $30,000, an office, computer, eligibility for university housing, and full access to university libraries, computer systems and recreational facilities. Fellows will be expected to participate in CSLC activities including presentation of a paper at the Center's Colloquium Series, and assistance in organizing Center events.

Applicants should submit:
1- a curriculum vitae
2- a writing sample (in the English language, about 25 pages in length)
3- a research statement (of approximately 1,000 words) that:
- describes the proposed work during the fellowship period
- explains the project's significance to the topic of Executive Power
- sets forth its interdisciplinary nature
4- TWO letters of recommendation (if sent with application, letter should be sealed in letterhead envelope and signed over the flap by referee). If more than two are sent, it is not guaranteed that all letters will be read.

Applications must be received at our office no later than February 15, 2007. E-mail applications will be accepted. Letters of recommendation may be sent under separate cover. Incomplete applications will be immediately disqualified.

Direct questions and application materials to:
Center for the Study of Law and Culture
Columbia University
435 W. 116th Street
New York, N.Y. 10027

Women, people of color, non-US and independent scholars are particularly invited to apply.

December 18, 2006

The Chicago Historical Homicide Project

Leigh Buchanan Bienen, Northwestern University School of Law, has published "The Record Keepers" in volume 124 of TriQuarterly Journal (2006). Here is the abstract.
"The Record Keepers" by Leigh Buchanan Bienen describes the evolution of the Chicago Historical Homicide Project, beginning with the discovery of the preservation of a set of original police records of homicides in Chicago over the period 1870-1930, a time of enormous political, economic, and social activity. All 14,000 cases, both the original narrative case summaries and the new coded, quantitative files, are available to be downloaded at, along with contemporaneous legal documents and reports, publications and commentary on the cases and the period, and photographs from the period. The homicide cases include the names of defendants and victims, addresses, and evocative details leading to other sources. "The Record Keepers" introduces "The Violence," a Special Issue of Triquarterly (No. 124) on Law and Literature, which includes articles by law professors, poets and novelists, legal historians, humanists and others. "The Record Keepers" and the other essays reflect upon the challenges and rewards of engaging in the reconstruction and reimagination of the past, beginning with legal documents and court records.
Download the entire paper here.

Celebrating the Canon

Richard Weisberg, Cardozo Law School, has published "Wigmore, and the Law and Literature Movement," as Cardozo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 177. Here is the abstract.
John Wigmore's list of Legal Novels -- really several lists compiled over the first 30 years or so of the 20th century -- helped to generate the modern embodiment of the Law and Literature movement. The bibliographical element, although of course controversial as the Law and Literature canon developed through multiple debates about what should and should not be read and discussed, proved essential in locating a group of stories that lawyers were to live with throughout their professional careers. More than bibliographical, however, Wigmore's accompanying text stressed the democratization through great literature of a legal profession otherwise prone to misunderstanding the human realities with which it was theoretically always concerned. A defined group of fictional narratives -- stories about law, lawyers, trials, statutes -- was to re-awaken in the legal reader the attachment to democratic values conveyed by literature through its acute awareness of human needs and the failure of great institutions to serve them. This essay marks the 30th anniversary of its author's update of the Wigmore list. I trace the very active debates that have informed Law and Literature since that 1976 Northwestern Law Review article, and I celebrate the expansion to foreign shores of knowledge about Wigmore, as Law and Literature proponents both home and abroad have embraced Wigmore's democratic impulse for law.
Download the entire paper here.

December 13, 2006

Are Recipes Copyrightable?

Christopher J. Buccafusco, University of Chicago Law School, discusses the question in "On the Legal Consequences of Sauces: Should Thomas Keller's Recipes be Per Se Copyrightable?" Here is the abstract.

The restaurant industry now takes in over $500 billion a year, but recent courts have been skeptical of the notion that one of its most valuable assets, original recipes, are subject to copyright protection. With more litigation looming and the contours of the debate insufficiently mapped out, this article establishes the appropriate groundwork for analyzing the copyrightability of recipes. I show that, contrary to recent appellate court opinions, recipes meet the statutory requirements for copyrightability. I argue, by analogizing to musical compositions, that written recipes work to satisfy the fixation requirement of copyright law just as musical notation does for compositions. Accordingly, the “dish” is the final work of authorship, the recipe is the fixation medium, and the various cooking techniques - braising, grilling, sous vide - are the potentially patentable processes. In order to meet copyright law's requirement of originality, though, the work must be deemed expressive. To determine whether and how recipes are expressive, I interviewed some of America's best chefs, each of whom claimed to use recipes to express various ideas and emotions.

Since there are no doctrinal limitations to recipes' copyrightability, in Part II, I offer reasons for the late recognition as protectable works. First, I consider the marginalized status of the sense of taste in the history of Western aesthetic philosophy. For many philosophers, only objects that presented themselves to the eyes and ears, such as music, painting, and literature, could be truly beautiful. Partly out of the fear that fancy foods can lead to gluttony, Western, and more specifically Anglo-American writers have often tried to limit cuisine to its fundamentally nutritive components, further isolating it from the realm of creative expression. Furthermore, the producers of cuisine have been treated no better than their products. Throughout history cooking has been the province of lowly household servants and housewives, with only a select few chefs rising to the status of artisan. Chefs rose from the ranks of obscurity far more slowly than did writers, painters, and musicians. Finally, chefs have a long history of directly copying recipes and dishes from their predecessors, suggesting that the norms of Romantic original authorship formed much later in cuisine than in other arts.

In Part III, I return to the law to consider whether the copyright monopoly should be extended to culinary creations. Chefs are not likely to take serious advantage of copyrights, as the time and money necessary for suit would rarely be worth the benefit. The chefs I interviewed were uncomfortable with the idea of owning their recipes, and they all approved of others using their recipes, subject to certain limits. Increased innovation is also unlikely as a more robust intellectual property regime would likely inhibit chefs' willingness to experiment with other chefs' dishes. Furthermore, the public domain would not see any meaningful increase, because few chefs who currently keep their recipes secret will be persuaded to publish them to obtain the limited benefits of copyright. The article concludes by arguing that formal copyright protection is not necessary for culinary creation, because a vibrant system of social norms already exists to sanction plagiarism, encourage attribution, and reward innovation. Thus, although recipes meet the formal doctrinal requirements of copyright law, an extension of the monopoly is neither necessary nor appropriate at this time.

Download the entire paper from SSRN here.

December 12, 2006

Rap Lyrics and Murder Trials

Prosecutors are attempting to show that rap lyrics constitute a confession in the trial of Ronell Wilson for the murder of officers James V. Nemorin and Rodney J. Andrews over three years ago. It is not a novel argument, as this article from the New York Times shows. For more about rap lyrics, see this extremely selected bibliography.
Babb, Tracie Nicole, Rap Music’s Transformation in a Postmodern World (Dissertation, Howard University, 2005).

Best, Steven, and Douglas Kellner, Rap, Black Rage, and Racial Difference, 2 Enculturation (no pagination) (Spring 1999).

Fischoff, Stuart P., Gangsta Rap and a Murder in Bakersfield. Previously published as 29 Journal of Applied Social Psychology 795 (1999).

Hendershott, Heidi A., School of Rap: The Politics and Pedagogies of Rap Music (Dissertation, Pennsylvania State University, 2004).

Koloze, Jeff, Abortion and Rap Music: A Literary Study of the Lyrics of Representative Rap Songs, in Life and Learning, XIII: Proceedings of the Thirteenth University Faculty for Life Conference (Washington, DC, 2004).

Krohn, Franklin B., and Frances L. Suazo, Contemporary Urban Music: Controversial Messages in Hip-Hop and Rap Lyrics, 52 ETC: A Review of General Semantics 139 (1995).

Lanier, Douglas, Minstrelsy, Jazz, Rap: Shakespeare, African-American Music, and Cultural Legitimation, 1 Borrowers and Lenders: The Journal of Shakespeare and Appropriation (no pagination) (Spring 2005).

Loza, Steven, Milo Alvarez, Josefina Santiago and Charles Moore, Los Angeles Gangsta Rap and the Aesthetics of Violence, 10 Selected Reports in Ethnomusicology 149 (1994).

Peterson, Jerry, The Police in the Blues, Freedom Songs, and Rap, 3 The Mid-Atlantic Almanac 109 (1994).

Quinn, Eithne, “Who’s the Mack?” The Perfomativity and Politics of the Pimp Figure in Gangsta Rap, 34 Journal of American Studies 115 (2000).

Quinn, Michael, “Never Shoulda Been Let Out of the Penitentiary”: Gangsta Rap and the Struggle Over Racial Identity, 34 Cultural Critique 65 (1996).

Rose, Patricia Lorraine, Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Cultural Resistance in Contemporary American Popular Culture (Dissertation, Brown University, 1993).

Rose-Robinson, Sia, A Qualitative Analysis of Hardcore and Gangsta Rap Lyrics: 1985-1995 (Dissertation, Howard University, 1995)

Rosen, Ralph M. and Donald R. Marks, Comedies of Transgression in Gangsta Rap and Ancient Classical Poetry, 30 New Literary History 897 (1999).

Rosenthal, Debra J., ‘Hoods and the Woods: Rap Music as Environmental Literature, 39 Journal of Popular Culture 661 (2006).

December 8, 2006

The Music of Various Spheres

Ian Gallacher, Syracuse University College of Law, has published "Conducting the Constitution: Justice Scalia, Textualism, and the Eroica Symphony." Here is the abstract.
This article examines the three principle Constitutional interpretative approaches and compares them to similar interpretative doctrines used by musicians. In particular, it examines the theoretical underpinnings of Justice Scalia's "textualist" philosophy by trying to predict what results would obtain from application of that philosophy to a performance of the first movement of Beethoven's "Eroica" symphony.

The article does not declare the foundation of a new genre of legal hermeneutics, nor does it seek to announce a comprehensive interpretative framework that can solve problems of Constitutional or statutory interpretation. Rather, the article explores some fundamental principles of legal textual interpretation while, at the same time, avoiding the aggressive rhetoric and contentious social issues that can obscure the debate over textualism, the viability of a "Living Constitution" and the use of extra-textual information to aid in determining textual meaning.
Download the entire paper from SSRN here.

A Look at the Rhetoric of a Nineteenth Century Trial Narrative

John T. Parry, Lewis & Clark College Law School and Andrea L. Hibbard, Lewis & Clark College, have published "Law, Seduction, and the Sentimental Heroine: The Case of Amelia Norman," in American Literature, Vol. 78, No. 325, 2006. Here is the abstract.
This article examines the notorious mid-nineteenth-century American trial of Amelia Norman, who was acquitted - very much against the weight of the evidence - of attempting to kill the man who seduced her. In particular, we explore the role in the trial and its aftermath of the affective energies and cultural expectations set in motion by best-selling American sentimental novels like Hannah Foster's "The Coquette" and Susanna Rowson's "Charlotte Temple."

In Norman's case, once newspapers, defense lawyers, and reformers such as Lydia Maria Child recast the defendant as a sentimental heroine, the trial became about seduction, not attempted murder. The sentimental emplotment of Norman's life marshaled a powerful set of emotional responses and moral judgments on her behalf. For example, Norman claimed insanity. And since sentimental heroines are supposed to go mad when they are seduced and abandoned, the jury was prepared to interpret her symptoms according to her lawyers' very strategy for establishing her innocence. Ultimately, however, Norman embodied the plight of the sentimental heroine at the same time that she contested her fictional counterpart's fate. In this way, her trial spectacularized the disparity which the sentimental novel conjures up and displaces but never resolves.

Going further, the common law theory of coverture, which severely limited the legal personhood of married women, has received a great deal of scholarly attention. Cases like Norman's remind us that unmarried women were also subject to draconian constraints on their legal personhood. The tort of seduction is a key example. Legal historians trace the development of the seduction tort from its common-law origins, when men's property interest in women's bodies formed the basis of the cause of action, to 1851, when Field Code authors (including Norman's lawyer, David Graham) persuaded several states to grant seduced women standing to bring their own cause of action. Consequently, courts were forced to reckon with the seduced woman as a moral agent capable of consenting to sex. As trials like Norman's demonstrate, sentimental novels helped lay the groundwork for this shift in the law by elucidating a subjectivity for the seduced woman.

Yet the doctrinal implications of Norman's precedent-setting trial had a second, more ambiguous strain. Other women facing similar charges used the same legal strategy to gain acquittals in a substantial number of cases. Indeed, Norman's sentimental strategy proved so powerful that men on trial for killing their wives' seducers appropriated it to bring their own stories before juries and to reinforce male sexual norms through the so-called honor defense. In the end, then, Norman's trial fostered legal reform, but it also suggested - as Lydia Maria Child's fictionalization of the case in "Rosenglory" recognized - that only sustained and multifaceted efforts to change cultural as well as legal norms could improve the sexual status of women.

In addition to its legal, literary, and historical insights that it provides, we also intend this article to contribute to debates on the nature of scholarship in law and literature. Scholars such as Wai Chee Dimock have argued for a focus on the historical and historically shifting relations between law and literature - a view we endorse. Where we differ from Dimock is in our diversion of attention away from abstract ideas of law laid out by treatise writers and philosophers in favor of law experienced and manipulated by individuals. So, too, we are interested less in representations of concepts such as justice in legal and literary texts than we are in the ways in which literature (broadly conceived) can create provisional and fragile opportunities for concrete instantiations of justice and even generate legal change (for good or ill). We would argue that to the extent legal change motivates rather than simply mirrors cultural change, it needs literature to be effective. This project, then, responds to Gregg Crane's call for attention to the complex and slippery historical interactions of law and literature that shape and are shaped by an ever changing cultural idiom of justice. The extended story of Amelia Norman, in short, not only constitutes a case study in the inescapable interaction between the overlapping and interdependent discourses of law and literature, but also reveals the literary and legal consequences of that interaction.
Download the entire paper from SSRN here.

Robert M. Ireland mentions Amelia Norman's trial in his article "Privately Funded Prosecution of Crime in the Nineteenth Century United States."

December 6, 2006

Dang! Those Pesky Guilty Clients Again

Michael Asimow, UCLA Law School, and Richard Weisberg, Cardozo Law School, have published "When the Lawyer Knows the Client is Guilty: David Mellinkoff's 'The Conscience of a Lawyer', Legal Ethics, Literature, and Popular Culture," as UCLA School of Law Research Paper 06-44. Here is the abstract.
David Mellinkoff's 1973 book 'The Conscience of a Lawyer' concerned a classic puzzle in legal ethics: what should a criminal defense lawyer do when the lawyer is certain that the client is factually guilty, but the client insists on an all-out defense? Mellinkoff focused on the Courvoisier case, a notorious English trial in 1840 in which defense counsel's tactics created an enormous public scandal. Legal ethicists have struggled with these issues ever since that time and they remain unresolved. This article draws a distinction between strong and weak adversarialism and explains how these two normative positions guide a lawyer's tactical decisionmaking in the certainly-guilty client situation. The article suggests that lawyers should have discretion to choose between the strong and weak positions, depending on context and their personal conscience. Both popular culture and great literature provide surprisingly interesting perspectives on the strong vs. weak adversarialism dilemma. Literature casts doubt on whether a lawyer can ever know with the requisite certainty whether a client is guilty. It presents numerous models of successful strong adversarialists and unsuccessful weak adversarialists. Few literary lawyers manage to be both skilled advocates and decent human beings. American popular culture, on the other hand, presents an emphatic answer to the question of what a lawyer with a certainly guilty client should do. According to pop culture, the lawyer's job is to betray the client to make sure the guilty criminal is convicted, dishonored, or killed. Pop culture's no-adversarialism model is a universe few lawyers would care to inhabit but which reflects popular views on the relationship of lawyering to truth.

Download the entire paper from SSRN here.

December 1, 2006

Michael Asimow on the Image of the Adversarial System in Popular Culture

Michael Asimow, UCLA School of Law, has published "Popular Culture and the Adversarial System" in volume 2007 of the Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review. Here is the abstract.
This article addresses a puzzle: lawyers are the most distrusted and despised of all American professions, whereas the public has a much higher opinion of judges. Yet Americans believe strongly in the adversary system in which all the important procedural decisions during civil or criminal trials are made by lawyers. Even though people crave a justice system that discovers what really happened, they accept one that delivers only trial truth and procedural justice, not factual truth or substantive justice. This article explores various reasons why people might favor the adversary system despite their distrust of lawyers and their craving for truth, such as a belief in personal autonomy, a distrust of government officials, and a lack of knowledge about alternatives. However, the article suggests another possible reason: the influence of popular cultural portrayals of the trial process. Dating back to the days of history's greatest teacher of trial tactics - Perry Mason - media consumers have been taught that the adversary system delivers the truth. We can count on a great lawyer's cross-examination to reveal the identity of the real killer. Even though we hate and distrust lawyers, we want a good one by our side when we're in trouble or an aggressive one prosecuting the crooks. Countless films and television shows since Perry Mason's day have conveyed the same basic message, although in more sophisticated form. According to “cultivation theory,” people often extract information and form opinions based on fictitious stories told by pop culture media. Perhaps we derive our bone-deep belief in the adversary system from Perry Mason and the other great lawyers we've watched over the years.
Download the entire paper from SSRN here.

Cross posted to the Seamless Web.

November 29, 2006

What's Available in Law and the Humanities

I've updated my list of formal courses available in Law and the Humanities. It's available on my website here.

November 17, 2006

Images of Imprisonment

Jamie Bennett has published "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: The Media in Prison Films," at Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol. 45, No. 2, pp. 97-115 (May 2006). Here is the abstract.

Generally, people have low levels of exposure to prisons through personal experience and therefore the media plays an important role in informing beliefs and actions. In particular prison films are an important and extensive form of media depiction. However, media depiction of crime and imprisonment has been criticised on ethical, political and social grounds. This article explores how prison films have depicted the relationship between the media, crime and punishment. It argues that this is a significant and integrated part of the prison film genre. It also argues that these representations are important both as a narrative device and in making the media a focus of pressure for reform.

Nicole Rafter also has some discussion of the prison film in chapter six of the second edition of her book Shots in the Mirror: Crime Films and Society (Oxford, 2006).

[Cross-posted to The Seamless Web]

November 8, 2006

Rashomon and Thinking About Criminal Law

Denis J. Brion, Washington and Lee University, has published "Pluralism: Rashomon and Contested Conceptions of Criminality" as Washington & Lee Legal Studies Paper No. 2006-11. Here is the abstract.
The 1951 Akira Kurosawa film, Rashomon, is famous for depicting four often radically different reports of a violent incident that took place in a grove of trees in twelfth century Japan, the reports of the three participants in the incident and of the one witness to it. By considering this seemingly puzzling depiction in light of advances being made in the field of cognitive science, each of these conflicting reports can be understood as being based on one of the four fundamental ways in which the human mind can place events in a cognitive frame and thereby provide the structure for individual human consciousness. In his 1978 text, Rethinking Criminal Law, George Fletcher provided a trenchant description of his thesis that “the criminal law is a polycentric body of principles”, bringing to light four fundamental ways in which the judiciary, by way of resolving particular disputes, determines the criminality of particular acts. Again, these four fundamental modes of determining criminality can be understood as being based on the four cognitive frames available for the structuring of consciousness. Because this polycentric nature can be identified across the various substantive areas of the law, this understanding provides a way of addressing the possibilities for developing a substantive jurisprudence of the law.

Download the entire paper from SSRN here.

November 7, 2006

"Picturing Justice", Web's First US Online Law and Film Journal, Ceases Publication

"Picturing Justice", the web's US first online law and film journal, has ceased publication. Several of its webeditors have been seeking a new home for it but so far have had no success. Meanwhile, PJ's archives remain available for its interested and faithful readers and we hope, for new generations of interested people to discover.

What Is It Like To Be Like That: New Paper in Law and Literature

Rob Atkinson, Jr., Florida State University School of Law, has published "What Is It Like to Be Like That?: The Progress of Law and Literature's 'Other' Project" as Florida State University College of Law's Public Research Paper No. 218. Here is the abstract.
A central interest of the modern law and literature movement has been how literature can show lawyers what it is like to be different from what they are - in a word, "other". This essay examines the course of that "other" project through three critical phases: the taxonomic, which purported to give lawyers an external account of others, the better to serve their own clients; the empathetic, which has tried to give lawyers an internal account of others, the better to enable lawyers to improve the lot of those others; and the exemplary, which holds up models of how lawyers themselves might be more firmly and effectively committed to the commonweal, particularly the good of others less well off. It argues that the law and literature movement should embrace this last phase of the "other" project, placing it at the center of the movement's mission and Plato's Republic at the core of its canon.
Download the entire paper from SSRN here.

October 23, 2006

Chronological Bibliography of Law & Literature Scholarship

With the help of Sam Weisberg, I have created a chronological bibliography of law and literature scholarship from 1982-present. It is certainly not 100% complete, as there are limits to Westlaw searching, but it hopefully will be useful.

It is available here.

Does Reading Literature Give You More Empathy?

The British Psychological Society reports the results of a new study on the effects of reading literature:
The more fiction a person reads, the more empathy they have and the better they perform on tests of social understanding and awareness. By contrast, reading more non-fiction, fact-based books shows the opposite association. That’s according to Raymond Mar and colleagues who say their finding could have implications for educating children and adults about understanding others.

Finding out how much people read is always difficult because it’s socially desirable for people to report that they read a lot. Mar and colleagues avoided this by asking 94 participants to identify the names of fiction and non-fiction authors embedded in a long list of names that also included non-authors. Prior research has shown this test correlates well with how much people actually read. Among the authors listed were Matt Ridley, Naomi Wolf (non-fiction), Toni Morrison and PD James (fiction).

The more authors of fiction that a participant recognised, the higher they tended to score on measures of social awareness and tests of empathy – for example being able to recognise a person’s emotions from a picture showing their eyes only, or being able to take another person’s perspective. Recognising more non-fiction authors showed the opposite association.

The researchers surmised that reading fiction could improve people’s social awareness via at least two routes – by exposing them to concrete social knowledge concerning the way people behave, and by allowing them to practise inferring people’s intentions and monitoring people’s relationships. Non-fiction readers, by contrast, “fail to simulate such experiences, and may accrue a social deficit in social skills as a result of removing themselves from the actual social world”.

However, a weakness of the study is that the direction of causation has not been established – it might simply be that more empathic people prefer reading novels.

The study is by R.A. Mar, K. Oatley, J. Hirsh, J. dela Paz, & J.B. Peterson, Bookworms Versus Nerds: Exposure to Fiction Versus Non-fiction, Divergent Associations with Social Ability, and the Simulation of Fictional Social Worlds, 40 Journal of Research in Personality 694-712 (2006). It is available here, but for a fee.

Hat tip: Ilya Somin.

October 4, 2006

Even More Harry Potter

Ruth Anne Robbins, Rutgers University School of Law, Camden, has published "Harry Potter, Ruby Slippers, and Merlin: Telling the Client's Story Using the Characters and Paradigm of the Archetypal Hero's Journey," in volume 29 of Seattle University Law Review (2006). Here is the abstract.
This article focuses on the relationship of mythology and folklore heroes to everyday lawyering decisions regarding case theory when the audience is a judge or panel of judges rather than a jury. It proposes the thesis that because people respond - instinctively and intuitively - to certain recurring story patterns and character archetypes, lawyers should systematically and deliberately integrate into their storytelling the larger picture of their clients' goals by subtly portraying their individual clients as heroes on a particular life path. This strategy is not merely a device to make the story more interesting but provides a scaffold to influence the judge at the unconscious level by providing a metaphor for universal themes of struggle and growth.
Download the entire paper here.

Crossposted to The Seamless Web.

Call For Proposals: Storytelling Conference in London Next July

A call for proposals for a conference entitled "Once Upon a Legal Time: developing the skills of storytelling in law" to be held at City University  London, UK from July 18 through July 20 of 2007 is going out. Here is a further description of the conference, provided by Ruth-Anne Robbbins, of Rutgers University School of Law, Camden.
Mastery of legal skills – legal analysis, writing, research and clinical skills – has long been part of American legal education. At present, most American law schools have full-time faculty who specialize in teaching in one or more of these areas. Correspondingly in the United States, there has been increasing focus on the importance of studying narrative from the practical standpoint. In recent years, academics from other common law system countries including the UK and Australia, have demonstrated an interest in developing similar legal skills education in their countries. For that reason, this conference seeks to foster collaboration and dialogue about teaching storytelling and other skills to students and practitioners in law.

This conference does not look to impose aspects of American legal education on other common law legal education systems. Rather, it seeks to explore both the role of narrative in legal practice, and curricular strategies that will prepare students to use story and narrative as they enter the practice of law. The conference seeks to bring together academics, practitioners and judges for this purpose.

Potential topics on the role of narrative in the practice of law may include:
-using storytelling in litigation;
-telling stories to clients; -the process of creating compelling legal stories as part of best practices;
-examining current models used to teach storytelling skills in education and/or practice;
-narrative in judicial opinions;
-narrative and negotiation;
-the place of storytelling in legal reasoning;
-storytelling in the legislative process;
-the difference between stories and narratives and which one is better for clients;
-whether storytelling models differ according to legal systems;
-the ethical limits of storytelling.

The conference will include 45-60 minute presentations as well as roundtable discussions. Proposals may indicate a preference for format. We also encourage people to present works in progress.
The deadline for submissions is November 27, 2006. Please submit a several paragraph description of the presentation discussing the goals for the presentation and the methodologies. All submissions should be sent, preferably electronically, to either:

Professor Steve Johansen
Lewis and Clark Northwestern School of Law
10015 S.W. Terwilliger Blvd.
Portland, OR 97219

Dr. Erika Rackley
Department of Law
Durham University
50 North Bailey
Durham * DH1 3ET

Again, the deadline for proposal submissions is November 27, 2006.

When and Where: The conference will take place from Wednesday, July 18 (opening reception) to Friday, July 20, 2007 at City University Inns of Court Law School in London, UK. The Law School is in the historic Gray’s Inn, one of London’s four Inns of Court in existence since the 16th century. The building itself is steeped in royal history.

Costs to Participants: Because travel costs will be high for non-U.K. participants, we hope to keep conference fees low. We anticipate conference fee to be approximately $300.

Housing: We have reserved blocks of rooms at the Grange Holborn (GBP 195/night), and at the Clarendon Hotel (GBP 139/night). Both hotels are within easy walking distance of Gray’s Inn, the conference site, and are also within walking distance of many popular sites in London including the British Museum, Old Bailey, Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden. For more details about both hotels visit the Grange website:

The sponsors of the Conference are the City University, London, and the Legal Writing Institute. Please contact Professor Johansen, Professor Rackley, or Professor Robbins for more information.
Cross posted to the Seamless Web.

September 29, 2006

A Collection of Law and Popular Culture Essays

The Law and Popular Culture "subdiscipline" is beginning to acquire a healthy number of volumes of essays containing proceedings of colloquia and symposia. Among them: Law and Popular Culture, edited by Michael Freeman, and published by Oxford, the collected pieces delivered at one of University College London's annual international "law and" get-togethers. Divided into nine sections, this book presents such topics as "Reel Justice" "The Novel", "Music", "Law, Sexuality, and Popular Culture", and "Human Rights", and includes pieces like Paul Bergman's "Emergency! Send a TV Show to Rescue Paramedic Services!" Stefan Machura's "Procedural Unfairnes in Real and Film Trials: Why Do Audiences Understand Stories Placed in Foreign Legal Systems?", Marlene Tromp's "Popular Fiction and Domestic Law: East Lynne, Justice and the `Ordeal of the Undecidable'", David Ray Papke's "Re-Imagining the Practice of Law; Popular Twentieth-Century Fiction by American Lawyer-Authors," Milner S. Ball's "Doing Time and Doing It in Style," Jenni Milbank's "It's About This: Lesbians, Prison, Desire," Christian Delage's "Image as Evidence and Mediation: The Experience of the Nuremberg Trials," Rex J. Ahdar's "`Do You Want Fries With That?' The Franchise as a Cultural and Legal Phenomenon," and Philip N. Meyer's "Adaptation: What Post-Conviction Relief Practitioners In Death Penalty Cases Might Learn From Popular Story Tellers About Narrative Persuasion." The coverage of issues is extensive and those who find law and pop culture of any interest at all should find something that piques their curiosity in this volume. One of my favorites was Michael Robertson's "Seeing Blind Spots: Corporate Misconduct in Film and Law", in which he discusses why Hollywood rarely makes movies about corporate misconduct. Given the number of corporations that have imploded recently, that might be about to change.

The book has tables of cases and statutes, and a helpful index, and it is a fat 696 pages long. But it's also $175.00, which will, unfortunately, I think, put it beyond the reach of most interested individual buyers.

Law and Popular Culture, edited by Michael Freeman. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005 (Current Legal Issues; 7)

September 22, 2006

We'll Always Have Parrots, Too....

My colleague Pat Martin notes that Jay Dardenne, a 1979 LSU Law graduate, won the "Vile Puns" category in the 2005 Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest, run by the Department of English at San Jose State University. Here is Senator Dardenne's winning entry.
Falcon was her name and she was quite the bird of prey, sashaying past her adolescent admirers from one anchor store to another, past the kiosks where earrings longed to lie upon her lobes and sunglasses hoped to nestle on her nose, seemingly the beginning of a beautiful friendship with whomsoever caught the eye of the mall tease, Falcon.

September 21, 2006

Crime and the Songs of Bruce Springsteen

David Ray Papke, Marquette University Law School, has published "Crime, Lawbreaking and Counterhegemonic Humanism in the Songs of Bruce Springsteen" as Marquette Law School Legal Studies Paper 06-13. Here is the abstract:

Bruce Springsteen has demonstrated a topical interest in crime and lawbreaking throughout his career as a singer-songwriter. His creative practice in this area challenges how we treat and understand criminals, and his counterhegemonic humanism powerfully reminds us of the fundamentals of a genuinely humanitarian social order.

Download the entire paper from SSRN here.

August 6, 2006

Chen on Poetic Justice in Brown v. Board of Education

Jim Chen (law, Minnesota), has posted Poetic Justice, 29 Cardozo L. Rev. __(2007) on SSRN. From the abstract:
"All deliberate speed," the remedial formula adopted in Brown v. Board of Education, 349 U.S. 294 (1955), has a singularly interesting literary lineage. Contrary to Justices Holmes and Frankfurter's assumption, "all deliberate speed" is not a phrase from the traditional language of the English Chancery, but rather a variant on a line from an 1893 poem by Francis Thompson, "The Hound of Heaven." How Thompson's line, "Deliberate speed, majestic instancy," came to dominate one of the defining moments in American constitutional law represents a unique instance of not law-in-literature or law-as-literature, but literature-as-law. By turning our analysis away from the romanticized origins of "all deliberate speed" in a Chancery practice that never existed and toward the real poetry of Francis Thompson, we may glimpse how "all deliberate speed" and the Brown litigation achieved a measure of poetic justice. Brown II's instruction that public school districts dismantle desegregation with "all deliberate speed" gave Brown I's vision of equal justice under law enough time and enough legitimacy to enter the hearts and minds of the American people in a way unlikely ever to be undone.

July 30, 2006

Papke on Portrayals of Judges in American Pop Culture

David Ray Papke (law, Marquette) has posted on SSRN an article entitled, From Flat to Round: Changing Portrayals of the Judge in American Popular Culture. From the abstract:
American judges are not only important government functionaries but also familiar pop cultural figures. However, the portrayal of judges in American film, television, and inexpensive literature appears to be changing. Judge Harlan Weaver in Otto Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder (1959) illustrates the way the pop culture judge were once "flat," symbolic representations of the rule of law. Since the 1970s, meanwhile, judges have increasingly been portrayed as crazy, villainous, and complexly sympathetic. Examples of this new "round" characterization include Judges Rayford and Fleming in And Justice for All (1979); assorted judicial characters in novels by Scott Turow and John Grisham; Judge Amy Gray from the television series Judging Amy (1999-2005); and Judge Judith Scheindlin and her irksome judicial colleagues from daytime television. The alterations in characterization ominously suggest larger changes in the culture of postmodern America.

June 15, 2006

Bibliography of Law & Literature Works About Specific Writers

Need a list of works about Shakespeare and the law? Or about Kafka's The Trial? Do you need to find legal scholarship about Dostoyevsky, Dickens, Faulkner, or others?

If so, then you'll find my new bibliography at the Law & Humanities Institute website to be quite handy. This bibliography is of law and literature works about specific writers, organized by writer name and by literary work.

Google Shakespeare

Google has launched Google Shakespeare, a searchable online collection of all of Shakespeare's plays. According to the site:
Now Shakespeare's oeuvre is even more accessible. Search within Hamlet for "to be or not to be" to read the rest of his famous soliloquy. Find out who called the world his "oyster" and why. Browse through a familiar play – or follow your curiosity to discover a new one.

May 21, 2006

A List of Literature About Law

Over at the Law & Humanities Institute website, I have compiled a list of literary works about the law. This is part of a larger project at the Law & Humanities Institute website to develop a good repository of resources for law and humanities courses. If you have any ideas for this project, I'd greatly welcome them.

Law & Humanities Institute Resources Page

Over at the Law & Humanities Institute website, we are compiling useful resources for law and humanities teaching and research. For example, we are gathering various syllabi of law and humanities courses. Please feel free to email me with your law and humanities course syllabus if you want it available at the website.