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.