December 28, 2007

Henning Mankell's New Novel

The Globe and Mail's Carl Wilson discusses Henning Mankell's new crime novel Kennedy's Brain, and his commitment to social causes. Mr. Mankell is the author of the police procedurals featuring Swedish inspector Kurt Wallander.

[Cross posted to the Seamless Web].

December 18, 2007

Rights for the Creators of Fan-Fiction and Others Involved in the Creation of Transformative Works

The new Organization for Transformative Works intends to protect "the interests of fans by providing access to and preserving the history of fanworks and fan culture in its myriad forms."

Here's its mission statement:

We envision a future in which all fannish works are recognized as legal and transformative and are accepted as a legitimate creative activity. We are proactive and innovative in protecting and defending our work from commercial exploitation and legal challenge. We preserve our fannish economy, values, and creative expression by protecting and nurturing our fellow fans, our work, our commentary, our history, and our identity while providing the broadest possible access to fannish activity for all fans.

Here are its values:

We value transformative fanworks and the innovative communities from which they have arisen, including media, real person fiction, anime, comics, music and vidding.
We value our identity as a predominantly female community with a rich history of creativity and commentary.
We value our volunteer-based infrastructure and the fannish gift economy that recognizes and celebrates worth in myriad and diverse activities.
We value making fannish activities as accessible as possible to all those who wish to participate.
We value infinite diversity in infinite combinations. We value all fans engaged in transformative work: fans of any race, gender, culture, sexual identity, or ability. We value the unhindered cross-pollination and exchange of fannish ideas and cultures while seeking to avoid the homogenization or centralization of fandom.

Read more in a blogpost from the Chronicle of Higher Education.


Matthew Hills, Fan Cultures (2002)

Henry Jenkins, Textual Poachers (1992)

December 12, 2007

Professor Dave Hoffman Interviews Author Pat Rothfuss

Over at Concurring Opinions, where I blog a lot, my co-blogger Dave Hoffman has an interesting interview with fantasy fiction writer Pat Rothfuss. Dave questions Rothfuss about the legal issues in his book, The Name of the Wind.

December 10, 2007

It's Coming From Inside the House

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, Professor F. Miguel Valenti, on the faculty at Arizona State University, believes 1) that students should see films as a whole, not in little snippets, and 2) that the film Friday the 13th has a great deal to answer for, stylistically speaking. In a recent interview (subscription may be required) Professor Valenti explains that "slasher films" like "Friday" and movies it has inspired encourage filmmakers to pump up the volume instead of emphasizing narrative and character development. He demonstrates what he means in his classes, and he tries to show his students the potential outcomes: unreasoning copycat killings such as the violence committed by young people who do not see what is on the screen as fantasy, parody, or exaggeration. Mr. Valenti, a graduate of Yale Law School,has written a text called More Than a Movie: Ethics in Entertainment (Westview Press, 2000).

Jeffrey R. Young, Notes From Academe: Ethics Meets Freddy Krueger, December 7, 2007.

See also Carol J. Clover, Men, Women, and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film (Princeton University Press, 1992).

Books Published in Law and Literature, 2007

Here's a roundup of some titles published in law and literature in the past year. This list is by no means comprehensive.

Cantarella, Eva, and Lorenzo Gagliardi, eds., Diritto e teatro in Grecia e a Roma (Milano: LED, 2007).

Chaplin, Susan, The Gothic and the Rule of Law, 1764-1820 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).

Cooke, Jason Scott, Ideological Transference in the Barbary Capitivity Literature of Post-Revolutionary America (Master’s thesis, Old Dominion University, 2007).

DeLombard, Jeannine Marie, Slavery on Trial: Law, Abolitionism, and Print Culture (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2007).

Dolin, Kieran, A Critical Introduction to Law and Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).

Hanawalt, Barbara and Anna A. Grotans, eds., Living Dangerously: On the Margins in Medieval and Early Modern Europe (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007).

Hepburn, Allan, ed., Troubled Legacies; Narrative and Inheritance (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007).

Hegel, Robert E., and Katherine Carlitz,eds., Writing and Law in Late Imperial China: Crime, Conflict, and Judgment (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2007).

Hofmann, Gert, Figures of Law: Studies in the Interference of Law and Literature (Tuebingen: Francke, 2007).

Hutson, Lorna, The Invention of Suspicion: Law and Mimesis in Shakespeare and Renaissance Drama (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).

Jordan, Constance, and Karen Cunningham,eds., The Law in Shakespeare (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007). Essays by various contributors.

Kezar, Dennis, ed., Solon and Thespis: Law and Theater in the English Renaissance (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007). Essays by various contributors.

King, Lovalerie, Race, Theft, and Ethics: Property Matters in African American Literature (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University, 2007).

Litscher, Lee A., The Semiotics of Rape in Renaissance English Literature (New York: Peter Lang, 2007).

Macpherson, Heidi Slettedahl, Courting Failure: Women and the Law in Twentieth-Century Literature (Akron, OH: University of Akron Press, 2007).

Mangham, Andrew, Violent Women and Sensation Fiction: Crime, Medicine, and Victorian Popular Culture (Bastingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).

Marcus, Sharon, Between Women: Friendship, Desire, and Marriage in Victorian England (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007).

Morawetz, Thomas, Literature and the Law (Frederick, MD: Aspen Publishers, 2007).

Rabell, Carmen, Ficciones Legales: Ensayos sobre ley, retórica y narración (San Juan, Puerto Rico:Maitén III, 2007).

Renaud, Gilles, Les Misérables on Sentencing: Valjean, Fantine, Javert and the Bishop Debate the Principles (Melbourne: Sandstone Academic Press, 2007).

Sanders, Mark, Ambiguities of Witnessing: Law and Literature in the Time of a Truth Commission (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007).

Scase, Wendy, Literature and Complaint in England, 1272-1553 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).

Sobota, Jan, and Jarmila Sobota, I, Robot: Three Laws of Robotics (Loket, Czech Republic: 2007).

Thomas, Brook, Civic Myths: A Law-and-Literature Approch to Citizenship (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007).

Zurcher, Andrew, Spenser’s Legal Language: Law and Poetry in Early Modern England (Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2007).

Left-Wing Ideology and the U.S. Novel

Walter J. Kendall, John Marshall Law School, has published "Law and Norms in Left-Wing Novels of the U. S. Mid-Twentieth Century." Here is the abstract.
Each of the major law-based structuring or ordering systems of society - markets, regulation, litigation, and democracy - should work as a path to a good and just society. However, the scholarship of the last half of the 20th century establishes that none work the way they should; each is blocked by a wall with doors locked to working people. In such circumstances most people either make an everyday life for themselves through consumption, especially of small systems that do work, like DVDs and microwave ovens; or lose themselves in big ideological fundamentalisms, like religion and tribalism. Some few look for a key to open the door; fewer determine to scale the wall; fewer still to knock them down.

The University of Illinois has recently reissued 12 novels in a series entitled The Radical Novel Reconsidered, edited by Alan Wald of the University of Michigan. This paper will briefly summarize the fictional situation in which protagonists find themselves in each novel. It will look at the law as it is represented in the books. How is it perceived by the characters? Does it help or hinder them in their pursuit of the good life? What are its functions? Is the law autonomous or is it dependent on or determined by other social, cultural, or economic forces?

Download the paper from SSRN here.

December 6, 2007

Call for Papers: Writing the Midwest

Call for papers for panels on law and literature in the Midwest at “Writing the Midwest: A Symposium of Scholars, Creative Writers, and Filmmakers,” the annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature, May 8-10, 2008 at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan.

Papers focusing on the novels of Robert Traver (John Voelker) and Scott Turow are especially welcome, but any studies of law and literature on Midwestern authors or works with Midwestern settings are invited. Please see the symposium website for further information.

Contact person: Professor James Seaton, Paper proposals, which may be brief one-paragraph statements, should be sent to Professor Seaton before January 1, 2008.

Law in the Plays of Elmer Rice

Randolph Jonakait, New York Law School, has published "Law in the Plays of Elmer Rice," at 19 Law and Literature 401 (2007). Here is the abstract.
While novels, short stories, television shows, movies, and classic dramas are often analyzed for insights into the law, modern plays are seldom similarly examined. The plays of Elmer Rice, however, should be discussed by those interested in our legal system. Rice, although now largely forgotten, was a leading playwright of the last century. He was a law school graduate, and his work often incorporated legal themes. His plays provide provocative commentaries about the law and raise dilemmas about justice and ethics that resonate today. This essay explores the interplay between plays and the law by examining the life and work of Elmer Rice.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

Here's more on Rice: a webpage devoted to him.

From my bibliography An International Guide to Law and Literature:

Allison, James D., A Study of Some Concepts of Social Justice in the Published Plays of Elmer Rice (Dissertation, 1953).
Berhringer, Fred Dayton, The Political Theatre of Elmer Rice, 1930-1943 (Dissertation, 1980).
Brown, Jared Allen, The Theatrical Development of Social Themes in Selected Plays by Elmer Rice (Dissertation, 1967).
Dorsey, John T., The Courtroom Scene in Four Plays of Elmer Rice, 1 Journal of the College of International Relations (Japan) 221 (Feb. 1980).
Durham, Frank, Elmer Rice (1970).
Evans, Timothy Joe, Elmer Rice and the Letter of the Law (Master's thesis, 1974).
Farris, Hudell McCelvey, Elmer Rice: Law and Justice (Master's thesis, 1973).
Hogan, Robert Goode, The Independence of Elmer Rice (1965).
Napieralski, Edmund Anthony, Elmer Rice: A Critical Evaluationa of His Full-Length Published Plays (Dissertation, 1967).
Palmieri, Anthony F. R., Elmer Rice, a Playwright's Vision of America (Dissertation, 1974).
Palmieri, Anthony F. R., Elmer Rice (1980).
Usigli, Rodolfo, Conversaciones y encuentros (1974). Includes an interview with Elmer Rice.
Weaver, Richard Alden, The Dramaturgy of Elmer Rice (Dissertation, 1973).

Penelope Pether on Australian Law and Literature

Penelope Pether, Villanova University School of Law, has published "The Prose and the Passion," as 66(3) On Crime and the Law of 2007. It is also Villanova/Public Policy Research Paper 07-20. Here is the abstract.
This essay takes the late Robert Cover's insight that “No set of legal institutions or prescriptions exists apart from the narratives that locate it and give it meaning,” and thus that “For every constitution there is an epic” as the starting point for a reading of Australian legal and literary texts about the relationship of the nation and “outsiders,” as between constitutional subjects and texts. Ranging from “legal faction” texts Evil Angels (about the “Dingo Baby” case) and Dark Victory (about the Tampa incident) and The Castle, Rob Sitch's filmic satire on the Australian takings clause and the landmark Native Title Decision Mabo v. Queensland, No 2, to the recent High Court cases Al Kateb, Behrooz, Re Woolley, and Ruhan, it offers a critical account of recent Australian constitutional jurisprudence regarding asylum seekers and “sexually violent predators.” The essay argues that this recent High Court jurisprudence offers a radically circumscribed reading of Chapter III judicial power (analogous to Article III judicial power in the U.S. Constitutional context), and offers comparative constitutional law perspectives on problems in U.S. Constitutional hermeneutics.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

December 3, 2007

The Beeb and Microwaved Shakespeare

The BBC offers the productions (I use the word loosely) of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, a group that distills the Bard's plays to their essences. King Lear merits fifteen seconds, Othello turns into rap, and Macbeth, according to the group, was originally recorded on eight-track back in the sixteenth century. Good fun, if you need a diversion from grading exams.

November 28, 2007

Using Film to Teach Legal Writing: The Case of Dogville

Elyse Pepper, St. John's University School of Law, has published "The Case for "Thinking Like a Filmmaker": Using Lars von Trier's Dogville as a Model For Writing a Statement of Facts," as St. John's Legal Studies Research Paper No. 07-0083. It will also be published in the Journal of the Legal Writing Institute. Here is the abstract.
Notwithstanding the consensus that cases are won on facts - not law, scant attention is paid to persuasive fact writing in the law school curriculum. At best, we instruct students to ?tell a story,? and provide them with a few organizational guidelines. The result is one newly-minted class of lawyers after another who struggle to enlighten the court about ?what happened? to the parties in the case at bar. This article considers how movies can help law students make the connection between storytelling and legal outcomes. Not only do the films that captivate us as an audience address the themes we must communicate as advocates, but the narrative, structure, and style of a film can serve as a model for conveying a story to the court. Using Lars von Trier's 2003 film, Dogville, the article explores the philosophy and process of crafting a series of events into a persuasive statement of facts. Examining the film's storytelling techniques, and borrowing many of them, allows the advocate to build a convincing narrative that promotes the logical reasoning advanced in the brief's argument section.

Download the entire paper from SSRN here.

November 26, 2007

Legal Times notes that this year's Shakespeare Theatre Company's mock trial presented the spectacle of Theodore Olsen, former solicitor general of the United States, and now with the firm of Gibson, Dunn, & Crutcher, defending President Edward Plantagenet, Jr. against impeachment charges brought by the House of Representatives. Acting as counsel for the House was Deputy Solicitor General Michael Dreeben. Among the judges for the trial was Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Here's more about the trial from the company's website. The trial was based on Christopher Marlowe's Edward II.

In past years the STC has put on mock trials involving Hamlet.

November 16, 2007

Erik Jensen, Case Western Reserve Law School, has published "Law School Attire: A Call for a Uniform Uniform Code." It is forthcoming in the Oklahoma City University Law Review and is available as Case Legal Studies Research Paper 07-30. Here is the abstract.
Law professors dress scruffily, and we need to do something about that.

[Yes. That's it.]

Download the entire Article from SSRN here.

Professor Jensen is the creator (instigator?) of the school of buffalo law jurisprudence. See Wheir's the Beef? Buffalo Law and Taxation and A Call for a New Buffalo Law Scholarship, 38 University of Kansas Law Review 433 (1990).

Droit Moral, IP, and the World of Harry Potter

Gary Pulsinelli, University of Tennessee College of Law, has published "Harry Potter and the (Re)Order of the Artists: Are We Muggles Or Goblins?"
Here is the abstract.

In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, author J.K. Rowling attributes to goblins a very interesting view of ownership rights in artistic works. According to Rowling, goblins believe that the maker of an artistic object maintain an ongoing ownership interest in that object even after it is sold, and is entitled to get it back when the purchaser dies. While this view may strike some as rather odd when it is applied to tangible property in the “muggle” world, it actually has some very interesting parallels to the legal treatment of intangible property, particularly in the areas of intellectual property and moral rights. Because of the way these parallels have been developing and growing, we seem to be becoming more goblinish in our willingness to recognize ongoing rights in artistic objects, including allowing the artist to collect a commission on subsequent resale of the work. Practical and social considerations suggest that we are unlikely to go as far as recognizing a permanent personal right in the creator that lets him or her reclaim such an object after a sale or other transfer is made. However, we are moving closer to recognizing some forms of the collective right that the goblins actually seem to demand, a cultural moral right in important cultural objects that enables the descendants of that culture as a group to demand the return of the object. Thus, we muggles may not be as far from the goblins as we may have at first believed.
Download the entire paper from SSRN here.

November 14, 2007

Singing Law School Professor

Today's NPR Morning Edition has a story about Mark Pettit, the singing Contracts Professor of Boston University Law School. According to reporter Tovia Smith, Professor Pettit really spices up the classroom with student-provided parodies of standards like Michael Jackson's "Beat It" and Britney Spears' "[You're] Not That Innocent." Read the story here.

So, does Professor Pettit's IP Law colleague discuss the use of these parodies in his/her class? Or would that spoil the fun? [Yes, probably].

[Cross-posted to The Seamless Web].

November 12, 2007

Arthur Conan Doyle as Sherlock Holmes: The Slater Case

Lindsay Farmer, University of Glasgow, has published "Arthur and Oscar (and Sherlock): The Reconstructive Trial and the 'Hermeneutics of Suspicion'" in the International Commentary on Evidence, volume 5, article 4. Here is the abstract.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle made a significant contribution to the campaign to free Oscar Slater, wrongly convicted of murder in 1909, and imprisoned for eighteen and a half years. This paper examines the trial of Oscar Slater in the light of the argument made by the historian Carlo Ginzburg that the nineteenth century saw the development of a new evidential paradigm as exemplified by the method of Conan Doyle's creation Sherlock Holmes. This is discussed in the context of the development of the `reconstructive' trial in the late nineteenth-century, by looking at changes in the types of evidence admitted to trials, at the changes in the law of evidence and at the relation between the detective and legal counsel. It argues that, like detective fiction, the trial was structured around a `hermeneutics of suspicion' that was institutionalised in certain features of the reconstructive trial. This encouraged jurors and other observers to distrust appearances and to make judgments based on their interpretation of the evidence and the appearance of the accused. Ironically, this contributed to the miscarriage of justice in the case of Oscar Slater that Conan Doyle later sought to challenge by use of the same method.

Download the entire article from the Berkeley Electronic Press here.

November 4, 2007

Super Size Me

Regina Austin, University of Pennsylvania Law School, has published "'Super Size Me' and the Conundrum of Race/Ethnicity, Gender, and Class for the Contemporary Law-Genre Documentary Filmmaker," at 40 Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review 683 (2007). Here is the abstract.

According to director Morgan Spurlock, the idea for "Super Size Me", the hugely popular documentary that explored the health impact of fast food, originated from a news report about "Pelman v. McDonald's", one of the fast food obesity cases. Over the course of his month-long McDonald's binge, Spurlock became the literal embodiment of fast-food's ill-effects on the seemingly generic American adult physique. Spurlock's take on the subject, however, ignores the circumstances that contributed to the overweight conditions of the "Pelman" plaintiffs who were two black adolescent females who ate their fast food in the Bronx. One of them was homeless during the relevant time period.

The paper discusses what the circumstances of the "Pelman" plaintiffs might have been, including the incidence of obesity and overweight and related diseases in minority populations, the correlation between obesity and food insecurity, the significance of fast food restaurants in poor urban minority communities, the relationship between fast food and soul food, race-specific cultural attitudes regarding women's weight, and race/ethnicity-related restraints on leisure. To be sure, based on past experience, a white male filmmaker like Spurlock might have found it difficult to tackle these subjects (especially in a film that is otherwise lighthearted and humorous) without encountering substantial criticism. Furthermore, most of the factors are irrelevant to the law of products liability, which pays little attention to inequities in the demographic distribution of risk. However, allowing generally disempowered subjects like the "Pelman" plaintiffs an opportunity to reveal their reflexivity about their situations is one way of combating disapproval and prompting deeper analysis of a social problem; Spurlock's television series "30 Days" is a fine example of that. Alternatively, filmmakers like Spurlock might display more reflexivity or critical self-assessment about their techniques for bringing only part of a complex issue to the screen . . . on the screen itself.

Download the entire Article from SSRN here.

October 30, 2007

Conference on Law and Popular Culture

Marquette University Law School is hosting a Conference on Law and Popular Culture November 1st to celebrate the publication of Law and Popular Culture: Text, Notes, and Questions by LEXIS Publishing. The conference is being organized by David Papke, of Marquette.

Call for Papers

CFP: Literature and Law: A Celebration

April 11, 2008 (Friday)

John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY) (59th Street and 10th Avenue—near Lincoln Center in Manhattan)

Conference Organizer and Contact Person: Andrew Majeske,

This conference aims to bring scholars of literature and law into an interdisciplinary setting to share the fruits of their research and scholarship. The conference celebrates the restoration of John Jay's English major with its unique literature and law emphasis.

The conference's keynote speaker is Brook Thomas, a noted literature and law scholar and Chancellor's Professor at the University of California Irvine. His most recent book, just published by UNC Press, is Civic Myths: A Law-and-Literature Approach to Citizenship.

We are in negotiations with the journal Law and Literature to publish full versions of the best of the papers presented at the conference in a special symposium issue.

A limited number of "Daily Show" or "The Colbert Report" tickets may be available (we are still working on this) for the evening before the conference (Thursday April 10 th) on a first-come, first-served basis. These shows are taped in studios only a few blocks walk from John Jay.

We invite papers dealing with any aspect of literature and law, including papers which might address some of the following:

-Convict narratives


-Mercy and equity

-The reasonable man/person standard

-Natural, divine, and positive law

-Legal standards and presumptions

-Fictional evidence

-Proportionality and punishment

-Fairness versus equality

-Reasonable Doubt

-Lady Justice

-Blasphemy and censorship

-The legal fiction of an era

Please submit abstracts (250 words or less) to Andrew Majeske,, by Friday, January 18, 2008.

October 25, 2007

Law and Literature in U. S. Courts

John DeStefano III has published "On Literature as Legal Authority," at 49 Arizona Law Review 521 (2007). Here is the abstract.
This Note surveys the courts' use of poetry, fiction, and drama to develop substantive law. Combining premises of legal realism and literary criticism, the Note rejects the position held by Judge Posner and other critics that literature is too subjective to offer the law legitimate substantive guidance. As caselaw examples demonstrate, the subjectivity of great writing can provide judicial opinions with a unique view to the complexity of life.

Download the entire Note from SSRN here.

Independent Women in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century English Literature

Nicola Lacey, London School of Economics, Law Department, has published "From Moll Flanders to Tess of the d'Urbervilles: Women, Automony, and Criminal Responsibility in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century England," as LSE Legal Studies Working Paper No. 5/2007. Here is the abstract.
In the early 18th Century, Daniel Defoe found it natural to write a novel whose heroine was a sexually adventurous, socially marginal property offender. Only half a century later, this would have been next to unthinkable. In this paper, the disappearance of Moll Flanders, and her supercession in the annals of literary female offenders by heroines like Tess of the d'Urbervilles, serves as a metaphor for fundamental changes in ideas of selfhood, gender and social order in 18th and 19th Century England. Drawing on law, literature, philosophy and social history, I argue that these broad changes underpinned a radical shift in mechanisms of responsibility-attribution, with decisive implications for the criminalisation of women. I focus in particular on the question of how the treatment and understanding of female criminality was changing during the era which saw the construction of the main building blocks of the modern criminal process, and of how these understandings related in turn to broader ideas about gender, social order and individual agency.

Download the entire paper from SSRN here.

October 19, 2007

Linguistics and Law: Spanish-Language Radio, Law, and Politics

Ernesto Hernandez Lopez, Chapman School of Law, has published "Law and Popular Culture: Inter-American Explorations into Columbian Slang and Spanish Language Radio in the U.S." in volume 19 of Berkeley La Raza Journal (2007). Here is the abstract.
This article argues that critical analysis of popular culture themes benefits legal scholarship by providing distinct cross-border perspectives and illuminating popular resistance efforts to hegemonic forces. This examination occurs in an Inter-American context, characterized by a south-north dynamic and migration's transnational influence. In these dynamics, there is significant popular resistance and anti-subordination to hegemonic forces. Legal scholarship often overlooks this by focusing on formal legal texts and processes. This resistance is visible within popular culture, as part of “hidden transcripts.”

This article makes two claims about popular culture's relevance, one methodological/theoretical claim and one substantive claim. First, observing how popular culture reflects societal interpretations of the law and politics greatly benefits the scholarly objectives of international research by promoting an exchange across national borders with an appreciation for different perspectives. Second, critically exploring popular culture illuminates how resistance and anti-subordination efforts often exercised by popular sectors, civil society, or Southern countries may be represented in this culture. As evidence of this, Colombian slang and Spanish radio in the U.S during 2006 immigration demonstrations are examined as two popular culture examples. This article incorporates theoretical innovations from law and popular culture scholarship, Latin American cultural studies such as Néstor García Canclini's work, James Scott's “arts of resistance” and “hidden transcripts,” and post-colonial theory.

Download the entire article from SSRN here.

Representations of Law in Ancient Athens

Adi Parush, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, has published "The Courtroom as Theater and the Theater as Courtroom in Ancient Athens." It appears in volume 35 of the Israel Law Review (Spring 2001). Here is the abstract.

However, following a seminar I gave dealing with several philosophical-legal aspects of Greek tragedy, and an article I wrote about the relationship between the concept of guilt in Oedipus Tyrannus and the principle of strict liability in modern criminal law, I have found myself in recent years becoming increasingly interested in the unique culture which emerged in Athens during the classical period, particularly in the 5th century BCE. In order to clarify the roots of this unusual love, it is important first of all to emphasize the great significance of confrontation, contest and competition in Athenian culture, the agonal element in the culture of ancient Athens. Naturally, the parties confronting each other in a courtroom today also make an all-out effort to find ways of enlisting the sympathy of the judges who are to determine their fate, and undoubtedly they also try to influence the judges in ways reminiscent of actors in a theater performance, but I think that the theatrical element in the debates taking place in the courtrooms of classical Athens was stronger than that which typifies the debates at our trials, owing to the specific modus operandi of the Athenian legal system. Regarding this point we may thus say that the speech writers served not only as some kind of playwright, responsible for the words spoken by the parties in the courtroom, but also as director orchestrating the performance. Therefore each actor in the tragedy played several roles, and since the actors were all men, they also acted the roles of the women in the plays.

Download the entire article from SSRN here.

October 18, 2007

Do Magicians Need IP Law, or Does IP Law Need Magic?

Jacob Loshin has published "Secrets Revealed: How Magicians Protect Intellectual Property Without Law." This paper in revised form will appear as an essay in the book Law and Magic: A Collection of Essays, edited by Christine Corcos and published by Carolina Academic Press (2008). Here is the abstract.
Intellectual property scholars have begun to explore the curious dynamics of IP's negative spaces, areas in which IP law offers scant protection for innovators, but where innovation nevertheless seems to thrive. Such negative spaces pose a puzzle for the traditional theory of IP, which holds that IP law is necessary to create incentives for innovation.

This paper presents a study of one such negative space which has so far garnered some curiosity but little sustained attention - the world of performing magicians. This paper argues that idiosyncratic dynamics among magicians make traditional copyright, patent, and trade secret law ill-suited to protecting magicians' most valuable intellectual property. Yet, the paper further argues that the magic community has developed its own set of unique IP norms which effectively operate in law's absence. The paper details the structure of these informal norms that protect the creation, dissemination, and performance of magic tricks. The paper also discusses broader implications for IP theory, suggesting that a norm-based approach may offer a promising explanation for the puzzling persistence of some of IP's negative spaces.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

A Theory of Adjudication: Law as Magic

Jessie Allen, New York University School of Law, has published "A Theory of Adjudication: Law as Magic." This paper in revised form will appear as an essay in the forthcoming book Law and Magic: A Collection of Essays, edited by Christine Corcos and published by Carolina Academic Press (2008). Here is the abstract.
This article takes a new approach to the problem of legal rationality. In the 1920s and 1930s the Legal Realists criticized judicial decisions as “magic solving words” and “word ritual.” Though the Realist critique continues to shape American jurisprudence, the legal magic they observed has never been seriously explored. Here, drawing on anthropological studies of magic and ritual, I reconsider the irrational legal techniques the Realists exposed. My thesis is that the Realists were right that law works like magic, but wrong about how magic works. That is, they were right that adjudication makes use of a particular combination of techniques – enacting performances, heightened formality, transformative analogy, performativity, temporal play – that is also found in ritual magic. But they were wrong that those techniques necessarily preclude rational decisionmaking. Drawing on the insights of field anthropology, I theorize legal magic as an authentic mode of legal practice. After considering the different aspects of legal magic and the Realists' critique, I propose three potential roles for legal magic: as a way to imbue official legal decisions with the affective moral force of lived experience, as an institutional practice that may enhance judicial impartiality, and as a method for symbolically reversing otherwise irreparable injuries. I hope that my reanalysis of legal magic can provide a new perspective on the relationship of law and reason, illuminate undertheorized aspects of law and contribute to a more concrete and nuanced understanding of adjudication's social role.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

Linguistics and Trademark Law

Graeme B. Dinwoodie, Chicago-Kent College of Law, has published "What Linguistics Can Do for Trademark Law," in INTERDISCIPLINARY PERSPECTIVES ON TRADE MARKS, J. Ginsburg, L. Bently, J. Davis, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2007. Here is the abstract.
This contribution to an inter-disciplinary book on Trademarks and Brands responds to the work of Alan Durant, a linguist who (in his chapter of the book) provides legal scholars with both a rich understanding of how linguists view terms that are part of the basic argot of trademark law and a potentially vital explanation of the different social functions that word marks might serve. The Response explains why linguistics should matter to trademark law, but also why trademark law might on occasion ignore the precise reality of consumer understanding as might be provided by linguistics. I suggest that, while trademark law should not become beholden to linguistics, the lessons of Durant's linguistic analysis are to some extent already accommodated in the practice of trademark law, and could be important guides in the further development of a number of legal principles. In particular, I explain how trademark law does in large part take into consideration Durant's observation that legal analysis would comport more with the reality of how words function if it focused on marks as they are used. The Chapter also argues that Durant's exploration of the concepts of “distinctiveness” and “descriptiveness”, as understood by lawyers and linguists, respectively, should reinforce important lessons for legal scholars about the complex policy prescriptions embodied in those concepts. Finally, I argue that particular insights developed by Durant from the field of linguistics may prove valuable in illuminating several points of contention in contemporary trademark law. In particular, Durant stresses that determining whether a defendant's use has evoked the source-identifying aspect of plaintiff's mark, as opposed to the descriptive properties of that term, can only be done by analyzing the “discourse 'setting' in which interpretations are constructed.” Thus, although the type of use should be relevant to assessing infringement, any analysis of use type must be highly contextualized. This insight should inform the choice of doctrinal vehicles by which trademark law establishes limits on the scope of protection.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

Fletcher on Faulkner and "Red Leaves"

Matthew L.M. Fletcher (Michigan St. Univ. College of Law) has posted his new paper, Red Leaves and the Dirty Ground: The Cannibalism of Law and Economics, on SSRN. From the abstract:

William Faulkner's short story, Red Leaves, is a classic tale of cannibal, slave-and-plantation-owning Indians in the antebellum South. These Indians were figments of Faulkner's imagination that he used as a literary tool to critique the South -- and perhaps America. But Red Leaves is also a tale of economic theory, with these fictional Indians making a serious effort (in a fantastical setting) to analyze slavery and cannibalism from an economic perspective. My paper, prepared for the 4th Annual Indigenous Law Conference at Michigan State University College of Law, argues that Faulkner's stark portrayal of Indian people offers both a means of reconsidering Indian affairs policy and critiquing the emerging use of the law and economics method of study to analyze and even decide Indian law cases.

October 10, 2007

Papke on 12 Angry Men

David Ray Papke, Marquette University Law School, has published "12 Angry Men Is Not an Archetype," in the Marquette University Law School Legal Studies Paper 07-08. Here is the abstract.
Fifty years after its initial release, 12 Angry Men (1957) remains an important cinematic and political work. But alas, 12 Angry Men is fundamentally atypical as a pop cultural portrayal of the jury. In the standard portrayal individual jurors do not come alive as characters. They are seen in the courtroom rather than in the deliberation room. And, most importantly, the jury does not emerge as a symbol for the larger democratic process and concomitant rule of law. Assuming that popular culture indirectly indicates the public's attitudes and expectations, the flat, uninspiring portrayal of juries in contemporary American popular culture may indicate the public's abandonment of the idea that juries are important manifestations of popular sovereignty.

Download the entire paper from SSRN here.

October 4, 2007

The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet

I'm very excited to announce that my new book, The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy, is now hot off the presses! Copies are now in stock and available on and Barnes & Noble's website. Copies will hit bookstores in a few weeks.

From the book jacket:
Teeming with chatrooms, online discussion groups, and blogs, the Internet offers previously unimagined opportunities for personal expression and communication. But there’s a dark side to the story. A trail of information fragments about us is forever preserved on the Internet, instantly available in a Google search. A permanent chronicle of our private lives—often of dubious reliability and sometimes totally false—will follow us wherever we go, accessible to friends, strangers, dates, employers, neighbors, relatives, and anyone else who cares to look. This engrossing book, brimming with amazing examples of gossip, slander, and rumor on the Internet, explores the profound implications of the online collision between free speech and privacy.

Daniel Solove, an authority on information privacy law, offers a fascinating account of how the Internet is transforming gossip, the way we shame others, and our ability to protect our own reputations. Focusing on blogs, Internet communities, cybermobs, and other current trends, he shows that, ironically, the unconstrained flow of information on the Internet may impede opportunities for self-development and freedom. Long-standing notions of privacy need review, the author contends: unless we establish a balance between privacy and free speech, we may discover that the freedom of the Internet makes us less free.
For quite some time, I've been thinking about the issue of how to balance the privacy and free speech issues involved with blogging and social networking sites. In the book, I do my best to propose some solutions, but my primary goal is to spark debate and discussion. I'm aiming to reach as broad an audience as possible and to make the book lively yet educational. I hope I've achieved these goals.

The book discusses wide-ranging and eclectic topics —social networks, tipping points, psychology, norms, colonial shaming punishments, literature, privacy and defamation law, the rise of the newspaper, the history of dueling, and traders in the Mediterranean during the eleventh century. Of course, given my love of literature, I quote a lot from various literary works.

I welcome any feedback. Please let me know what you think of the book, as I'd be very interested in your thoughts.

October 1, 2007

A Blog Devoted to Harry Potter is a blog devoted to Harry Potter. Check it out here.

Law and Literature in the Undergraduate Curriculum

Robin Lister, University of Bradford, presents a case for teaching Law and Literature in the undergraduate curriculum, in "Law and Literature and the LLB: An Apology for Poetry in the Undergraduate Law Curriculum." It was presented at the Learning in Law Annual Conference, UK Centre for Legal Education, University of Warwick, January 2007. Here is the abstract.

A survey of UK law schools suggests that only 'three or four' offer Law and Literature as an optional subject on their Qualifying Law Degrees (Harris & Beinart, 2005). This number seems surprisingly low, given the proliferation of Law and Literature literature since the emergence of this distinctive approach to thinking about law in the US in the 1970s, the widespread availability of Law and Literature courses in US law schools, and the advocacy of Law and Literature studies on law degrees by a number of UK academics throughout the 1990s (for example, Lee, 1990; Aristodemou, 1993; Ward, 1993; Bradney, 2000).

Download the entire paper from SSRN here.

Cross posted to The Seamless Web.

September 21, 2007

Ally McBealisms

Christine Corcos, LSU Law Center, has published "Power of Attorney." Here is the abstract.
No doubt exists that the drama/farce Ally McBeal, which ran on the Fox Television Network from 1997 to 2002, was a phenomenal success, at least during its middle years (1998-1999). It sparked numerous fan websites in several countries including one devoted to “fan fiction” (a genre in which devotees of a television series or film try their hands at writing scripts), various product spinoffs,a series spinoff (Ally, a thirty minute version that featured only vignettes, no legal drama) and even a Time magazine article that seriously considered whether Ally represents “the end of feminism. Years after the show went off the air, its influence continues. The popular prime time medical show “Grey's Anatomy” has spawned a spin-off which is already drawing fire for its emphasis on protagonists who are “lovelorn, sex-starved and prone to public displays of disaffection.” The reason, says writer Alessandra Stanley, is traceable directly to Ally McBeal, a show which emphasized a heroine who “marked a turning point in the devolution of women's roles in television comedy — the moment when competent-but flaky hardened into basket case.”

What made this thin, goofy, self-absorbed character so popular, at least before rumors and scandal about anorexia and drug use made the show more famous for off-screen shenanigans than on-screen accomplishment? Why was she so powerful a figure that a major U.S. news magazine devoted an important story to discussing her impact? I suggest that one of the major factors in Ally's rise was the fact that writer/producer David E. Kelley cast her as an attorney, the professional that everyone loves to hate, but also a woman who is, to be honest, fairly bad at her job, at least in the first three years, and arguably during her entire (fictional) career. As a woman attorney, Ally fits within the tradition of female lawyers who are either good at their jobs, or good at their relationships, but not both, and in Ally's case, neither. Further, Ally's impact is such that commentators both in the popular media and in legal academia continue to refer to her. She, and her series, have become “memes” — a character whose mention immediately sparks all sorts of associations. Kelley's willingness to test the boundaries of the law through storylines also ensures that the episodes of all the shows with which he is involved (not just Ally McBeal) retain their freshness.

Download the entire paper from SSRN here.

September 14, 2007

Call for Papers

UCLA School of Law, Columbia Law School, University of Southern California Center for Law, History & Culture, and Georgetown University Law Center invite submissions for the sixth meeting of the Law & Humanities Junior Scholar Workshop to be held at UCLA Law School in Los Angeles, CA on June 8 & 9, 2008.


The paper competition is open to untenured professors, advanced graduate students and post-doctoral scholars in law and the humanities; in addition to drawing from numerous humanistic fields, the Workshop welcomes critical, qualitative work in the social sciences. Between five and ten papers will be chosen, based on anonymous evaluation by an interdisciplinary selection committee, for presentation at the June Workshop. At the Workshop, two senior scholars will comment on each paper. Commentators and other Workshop participants will be asked to focus specifically on the strengths and weaknesses of the selected scholarly projects, with respect to subject and methodology. Moreover, the selected papers will then serve as the basis for a larger conversation among all the participants about the evolving standards by which we judge excellence and creativity in interdisciplinary scholarship, as well as about the nature of interdisciplinarity itself.

Papers should be works-in-progress between 10,000 and 15,000 words in length (including footnotes/endnotes), and must include an abstract of no more than 200 words. A dissertation chapter may be submitted but we strongly suggest that it be edited so that it stands alone as a piece of work with its own integrity. A paper that has been submitted for publication is eligible as long as it will not be in galley proofs or in print at the time of the Workshop. The selected papers will appear in a special issue of the Legal Scholarship Network; there is no other publication commitment. The Workshop will pay the travel expenses of authors whose papers are selected for presentation.

Submissions (in either Word or Wordperfect, no pdf files) will be accepted until January 8, 2008, and should be sent by e-mail to:

Center for the Study of Law and Culture

Columbia Law School

435 W. 116th Street

New York, N.Y. 10027

Please be sure to include your contact information. For more information: Manissa Maharawal, 212.854.2511 or The full text of the Call for Papers is available at:

[Cross posted to The Seamless Web; Law & Magic Blog]

September 13, 2007

The Miller Girls: Daisy and Judith

Penelope Pether, Villanova University School of Law, has published "Regarding the Miller Girls: Daisy, Judith, and the Seeming Paradox of in re Grand Jury Subpoena, Judith Miller," in 19 Law and Literature: The New Exceptionalism: Law and Literature Since 9/11 Symposium 187 (2007). Here is the abstract.

“Daisy Miller” is a story about American Exceptionalism; about the banal and tawdry tragedy that comes of having faith in it; about Daisy's (the lawyer Giovanelli's “new found land”) tragic flaw - that she is unaware of how others perceive her, or she doesn't care; or about ambiguities, or seeing things. It can be made to speak volumes about the power of perception, as about what Tayyab Mahmoud has called “[a]doption and deployment of identity.” Or about the seductive power of fictions of specifically national identity: for James critic Leslie Fiedler, “the American Girl is innocent by definition, mythically innocent; and her purity depends upon nothing she says or does....”

A contemporary American anti/heroine, Judith Miller, is likewise figured as interpretable: did she need a “freely given” “personal” waiver of confidentiality to identify her source, and when did she get one; was she a “good, honorable principled reporter” or “A Woman of Mass Destruction”; and what did New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller's accusation of an “entanglement” with “Scooter” Libby connote?

This essay takes the intrigues generated around “the Miller Girls” as a guide to reading the stories told by, surrounding, excised from, and immanent in the 2005 decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in In re Grand Jury Subpoena, Judith Miller, and explores some fictions of American Exceptionalism cultivated both by “common law constitutionalism,” and by a Federal judiciary laying down the law in the shadows cast by the “War on Terror” and the jurisdictions of expatriation.

Download the entire article from SSRN here.

Papke on Courts

David Papke, Marquette University School of Law, has published "The Impact of Popular Culture on American Perceptions of the Courts," as Marquette Law School Legal Studies Paper 07-07. Here is the abstract.
After a brief introduction defining popular culture as the commodities and experiences produced by the culture industry for mass audiences, this essay explores the impact of court-related popular culture on what Americans think of and expect from their courts. The Perry Mason effect from an earlier era and the CSI effect from the present are noted, as is scholarly work by Michael Asimow, Philip T. Dunwoody, Kimberlianne Podlas, Victoria S. Salzmann, and others. The essay concludes with suggestions for what might be done in the courthouse, the community, and the family room to control the impact of court-related popular culture on American legal consciousness.

Download the entire paper from SSRN here.

September 8, 2007

Historicizing Ronald Dworkin

Mark Walters, Queen's University Faculty of Law, has published "Hercules as Legal Humanist: Historicizing Dworkin's Jurisprudence," as Queen's University Legal Studies Research Paper 07-01. Here is the abstract.
Although H.L.A. Hart presented his legal theory "as part of the history of an idea", the theory of law developed by Hart's most famous critic, Ronald Dworkin, seems to be without a history. Dworkin does insist that his theory of law, "law-as-integrity", explains traditional common law method. But he has shown no real interest in the history of theorizing about that method, in part because he wishes to distance his own work from traditional schools of natural law. In this article, I revisit early theories of common law reasoning and show how, despite key differences, these theories share much in common with Dworkin's jurisprudence. Writers on the early-modern common law embraced insights drawn from Renaissance humanism to reach conclusions about the relationship between law and philosophy, the importance of coherence, interpretation and truth, and integrity, equality and the case-law method that foreshadow Dworkin's theory of law-as-integrity. If jurisprudence really is an aspect of normative political theory, as Dworkin suggests, then theories of law should be located within evolving traditions of political and intellectual thought. Law-as-integrity has a history to which it can lay claim, and that history is located in the humanist explanations of the early-modern common law.

Download the entire paper from SSRN here.

September 7, 2007

Law and Crime in Japanese Cinema

Federico Varese, Oxford University School of Law, has published "The Secret History of Japanese Cinema: The Yakuza Movies," as Oxford Legal Studies Research Paper 22/2006. Here is the abstract.
This article explores the interplay among economic imperatives within the entertainment business, the mafia's role in the creation of its own media image, and the production of gangster films. Taking Japan as a case study, the paper shows that, when given the chance to influence the content of gangster movies, crime bosses have portrayed themselves as benevolent patriarchs and a positive force in society, rather the anti-heroes of classic American gangster movies. In Japan, such a choice had, however, the unintended consequence of a decline in audience interest and eventually led to the demise of studio yakuza movies. Ultimately, the paper shows that that mafia control over art can lead to the death of art - something that is bad for the mafia, as well.

Download the entire paper from SSRN here.

August 22, 2007

Richard K. Sherwin on Popular Culture and Law

Richard K. Sherwin, Director of the Visual Persuasion Project, and Professor of Law, New York Law School, has published "Popular Culture and Law". It will appear as the introduction in the International Library of Essays in Law and Society volume for 2006. Here is the abstract.
What are the consequences when law's stories and images migrate from the courtroom to the court of public opinion and from movie, television and computer screens back to electronic monitors inside the courtroom itself? What happens when lawyers and public relations experts market notorious legal cases and controversial policy issues as if they were just another commodity? What is the appropriate relationship between law and digital culture in virtual worlds on the Internet? In addressing these cutting edge issues, the essays in this volume shed new light on the current status and future fate of law, truth and justice in our time.

Download the entire essay from SSRN here.

August 20, 2007

Indigenous Law Conference Planned at Michigan State University

News from Professor Matthew Fletcher of Michigan State University College of Law:

The Michigan State University College of Law will host its fourth Indigenous Law Conference from October 19 through October 20 of this year in East Lansing, Michigan. The welcome reception is October 18. The topic is American Indian Law and Literature. Guests include Richard Delgado, Frank Pommersheim, and Kristen Carpenter. Here's a link to the conference.

August 16, 2007

The Work of James Boyd White

Marc Roark, University of Tulsa, has published "Loneliness and the Law: Solitude, Action and Power in the Living Speech of James Boyd White." Here is the abstract.
The law is filled with empty spaces - what is not written; what is not said but meant; what is unsayable or unprintable. This article describes the spaces that such emptiness creates in both individual lawyers and in the law. The article begins by considering the elements of the legal idea: the action, needed to move the idea into consciousness, and the power conveying the idea's strength to the community. Proceeding from this framework, part one focuses on the loneliness that fosters legal ideas. Describing four types of loneliness: Indeterminacy, Resentment, Contemplation, and Exile, the article considers how these types of loneliness are revealed in the jurisprudence surrounding the African-American (Plessy v. Ferguson to Brown v. Board of Education) and the Asian American (Yick Wo and Korematsu) equality lines of cases. The article argues that the silent spaces of these opinions reveal as much as the written opinions.

Part 2 considers the action of the idea - both the movement of the idea from the consciousness to the material world, and the realization every lawyer comes to that his work is mere repetition. Focusing on the same line of cases, this part demonstrates how even the cases that suppose a positive change in the law, are repetitious in some ways of the past. The article suggests that the recognition of this repetition, is not only necessary but unavoidable for the lawyer-scholar to define himself.

Finally, Part 3 describes the power of the idea, lifting it out of the constraints of the material and into the spaces of the normative. Utilizing the description of place and space, the article captures the essence of grounding normative ideas into materiality and vice versa. The article however contains a cautionary tale in that certain ideas, when they become normative, can leave manifestations already materialized left to wither alone and with no normative identity (or an identity long passed). Utilizing the analogy of law as liturgy, the Article suggests that the silent spaces both tell us what the law is and what the law is not - revealing the true character of the material manifestation.

Download the entire paper from SSRN here.

August 2, 2007

Lawyers in Comic Books

William A. Hilyerd, University of Louisville School of Law, has published "Hi Superman, I'm a Lawyer: A Guide to Attorneys (& Other Legal Professionals) Portrayed in American Comic Books, 1910-2007". Here's the abstract.
Since comic books were first introduced in the 1930s, they have provided entertainment for children and adults alike. Most American males (and a significant portion of American females) have read comic books at some point in their lives, most when they were in grade school. In addition to providing young adults with their first glimpse of costumed heroes, comic books have also provided these same young adults with their first look at the legal profession. From the earliest days of comic books and strips through the present, attorneys have been prominently featured in American comic books.

The article begins with a discussion of the history of illustrated artwork and how that artwork evolved first into newspaper comic strips then into comic books. Next, comic strip and comic book attorneys from the early part of the 20th Century are identified and discussed. The introduction of Superman touched off the Golden Age of comic books. Part four discusses attorney characters which appeared during this Golden Age (1938-1946) and provides some background information on many of these characters. Part five discusses the decline of the reputation of comic books during the 1940s and 1950s and socio/legal attacks on comic books during the period.

By the middle of the 1950s, comic book publishers switched back to superheroes from the horror and suspense books. The switch back to superheroes brought with it a new crop of attorneys. Part six of the article identifies all of the recurring attorneys who appeared during this resurgence of interest in comic books, known as the Silver Age (1956-1969). Part seven provides discusses all of the attorney characters who appeared from 1970 through 1985. Part eight finishes the history of attorneys in comic books by identifying all of the attorneys who have had recurring roles in comic books since 1985.

Download the entire essay from SSRN here.

CFP 6th Annual Hawaii International Conference on Arts & Humanities

Call for Papers/Abstracts/Submissions

6th Annual Hawaii International Conference on Arts & Humanities

January 11 - 14, 2008

Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Hilton Waikiki Prince Kuhio

Honolulu Hawaii, USA

Submission Deadline: August 23, 2007

Sponsored by:

University of Louisville - Center for Sustainable Urban Neighborhoods

The Baylor Journal of Theatre and Performance

Web address:
Email address:

The 6th Annual Hawaii International Conference on Arts & Humanities will be held from January 11 (Friday) to January 14 (Monday), 2008 at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, and the Hilton Waikiki Prince Kuhio, in Honolulu, Hawaii. The conference will provide many opportunities for academicians and professionals from arts and humanities related fields to interact with members inside and outside their own particular disciplines. Cross-disciplinary submissions with other fields are welcome.

Topic Areas (All Areas of Arts & Humanities are Invited):


*American Studies




*Art History



*Ethnic Studies




*Graphic Design


*Landscape Architecture





*Performing Arts


*Postcolonial Identities

*Product Design


*Second Language Studies



*Visual Arts

*Other Areas of Arts and Humanities

*Cross-disciplinary areas of the above related to each other or other areas.

Submitting a Proposal:

You may now submit your paper/proposal by using our new online submission system! To use the system, and for detailed information about submitting see:

Cross posted to the Seamless Web

July 31, 2007

New Casebook on Law and Popular Culture

LEXIS/NEXIS has published a new casebook on Law and Popular Culture. The contributors are David Papke (editor), Marquette, Melissa Cole Essig, Esq., Peter Huang, Temple, Lenora Ledwon, St. Thomas, Diane Mazur, University of Florida, Carrie Menkel-Meadow, Georgetown, Philip Meyer, Vermont, Binny Miller, American University, and yours truly. From David's intro: "Law and Popular Culture is the first classroom text to examine the full range of American law-related popular culture. The text resembles a traditional casebook, but it contains relatively few cases or appellate opinions. Instead the text's fourteen chapters include discussions of various contemporary topics, numerous notes and questions, and well over one hundred excerpts from articles by leading law and popular culture scholars."

The book includes the following chapters: Studying Law and Popular Culture; Law Students, Lawyers and Legal Ethics, Clients, Witnesses, Judges, Juries, Tort Law, Criminal Law, Constitutional Law, Family Law, Business Law, International Law, and Military Law. Each chapter is organized around five films that illustrate that chapter's topic.

The title is ready for fall adoption.

Cross-posted to the Seamless Web.

Law and Lit in International Law

Ed Morgan, University of Toronto Law School, has published The Aesthetics of International Law(University of Toronto Press). Here's a description of the contents.
International law is a fundamentally modern phenomenon. Tracing its roots to the skeletal nineteenth-century pronouncements of the ‘law of nations,’ the discipline took shape in the elaborate treaty structures of the post-First World War era and in the institutions and tribunals of the post-Second World War period. International law as scholars know and study it today is a product of modernism.

In The Aesthetics of International Law, Ed Morgan engages in a literary parsing of international legal texts. In order to demonstrate how modernist aesthetics are imbued in these types of legal narratives, Morgan makes a direct comparison between international legal documents and modern (as well as some immediately pre- and post-modern) literary texts. He demonstrates how the same intellectual currents that flow through the works of authors ranging from Edgar Allen Poe to James Joyce to Vladimir Nabokov, are also present in legal doctrines ranging from the law of war to international commercial disputes to human rights.

By providing a comparative, interdisciplinary account of the modern phenomenon, this work seeks to highlight the ways in which judges, lawyers, and state representatives artfully exploit the narratives of international law. It demonstrates that just as modernist literature developed complex narrative techniques as a way of dealing with the human condition, modern international law has developed parallel argumentative techniques as a way of dealing with international political conditions.

Cross posted to the Seamless Web.

July 25, 2007

Twelve Angry Men

Robert P. Burns, Northwestern University School of Law, has published "Twelve Angry Men: A Jury Between Fact and Norm," in the Chicago-Kent Law Review for 2007. Here is the abstract.
This short essay was written for a symposium marking the fiftieth anniversary of the classic film's appearance. With a great cast, it remains perhaps the most compelling portrayal of an American jury in action. I begin by noting eight details in Twelve Angry Men which are so obvious that their significance may be difficult to discern. I then discuss the significance of the film's being a drama, indeed, a drama about a drama. I discuss the kind of truth that a dramatic portrayal of the jury can aspire to and what it can add to social scientific accounts. Finally, I identify the six dramatic tensions that define the film's meaning.

Download the entire essay from SSRN here.

[Cross-posted to the Seamless Web].

June 23, 2007

Orwellian Language

Judith Fischer, University of Louisiville School of Law, has published "Why George Orwell's Ideas About Language Still Matter For Lawyers," at 68 Montana Law Review 129 (2007). Here is the abstract.
This article examines George Orwell's theories about language and applies them to contemporary legal discourse in the United States. It concludes that Orwell's advice about the importance of clear, plain English comports with today's accepted legal writing style. However, his warnings about deceptive language in legal and political discourse have not been well heeded. The article suggests that lawyers can assume a role in changing that.

Download the entire Article from SSRN here.

June 21, 2007

Bob Mondello's Piece on Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and the Supreme Court Case: Loving v. Virginia

National Public Radio's Bob Mondello did a feature piece June 12th devoted to the film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner as well as several other movies that explore the theme of race relations, on the anniversary of the Supreme Court case that struck down Virginia's statute against interracial marriage. The case was Loving v. Virginia (388 U.S. 1; 87 S. Ct. 1817; 18 L. Ed. 2d 1010; 1967 U.S. LEXIS 1082 (1967)). Remember that Star Trek: The Original Series broke ground in the episode "Plato's Stepchildren" with television's first interracial kiss (aired November 22, 1968).

May 23, 2007

New: Law and Magic Blog

I've started a new blog devoted to law and magic. Here's the link.

A Conference on Shakespeare and the Law



University of Warwick, UK
9-11 July 2007

"I am a subject, and challenge law"
Richard II, Act II, scene III

The University of Warwick will host an international
conference on Shakespeare and the Law in association with
Warwick Law School and The Capital Centre partnership
between The University of Warwick and the Royal Shakespeare
Company. The conference will provide a unique forum for
scholarly discourse between the major humanities
disciplines of law, literature and the performing arts.


Speakers include several leading Shakespearean scholars,
theatre practitioners and scholars in the field of law and

Jonathan Bate, University of Warwick, Governor of the Royal
Shakespeare Company
Christian Biet, Universite de Paris-X Nanterre
Daniela Carpi, University of Verona
Gregory Doran, Associate Director
Mark Fortier, University of Guelph, Canada
Giuseppina Restivo, University of Trieste
Elizabeth Goldring, University of Warwick
Matthew Greenfield, City University of New York
Germaine Greer, Writer and broadcaster
Anselm Haverkamp & Katrin Trustedt European University,
Harry Keyishian, Fairleigh Dickinson University
Desmond Manderson, McGill University, Canada
Ambreena Manji, Keele University
Michael Pennington, actor, writer, director
Erika Rackley, University of Durham
Paul Raffield, University of Warwick
Anton Schutz, Birkbeck College
B.J. Sokol & Mary Sokol, authors
Ian Ward, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Richard H. Weisberg, Cardozo Law School, Yeshiva
University, NYC
Paul Yachnin, McGill University, Canada
Gary Watt, University of Warwick
Andrew Zurcher, University of Cambridge


The conference includes a social event at Kenilworth Castle
and the launch of the journal Law and Humanities:

Early booking discounts and student discounts are
available. For further details see the conference website:

"Let us haste to hear it, and call the noblest to the
Hamlet, Act V, Scene II

May 21, 2007

Copyright Doctrine and Fan Fiction

Anupam Chander and Madhavi Sunder, both University of California, Davis, School of Law, have published "Everyone's a Superhero: A Cultural Theory of "Mary Sue" Fan Fiction as Fair Use," in the California Law Review. Here's the abstract.
Lieutenant Mary Sue took the helm of the Starship Enterprise, saving the ship while parrying Kirk's advances. At least she did so in the unofficial short story by Trekkie Paula Smith. Mary Sue has since come to stand for the insertion of an idealized authorial representative in a popular work. Derided as an exercise in narcissism, Mary Sue is in fact a figure of subaltern critique, challenging the stereotypes of the original. The stereotypes of popular culture insinuate themselves deeply into our lives, coloring our views on occupations and roles. From Hermione Granger-led stories, to Harry Potter in Kolkata, to Star Trek same-sex romances, Mary Sues re-imagine our cultural landscape, granting agency to those denied it in the popular mythology. Lacking the global distribution channels of traditional media, Mary Sue authors now find an alternative in the World Wide Web, which brings their work to the world.

Despite copyright law's grant of rights in derivative works to the original's owners, we argue that Mary Sues that challenge the orthodoxy of the original likely constitute fair use. The Mary Sue serves as a metonym for all derivative uses that challenge the hegemony of the original. Scholars raise three principal critiques to such unlicensed use: (1) why not write your own story rather than borrowing another's? (2) even if you must borrow, why not license it? and (3) won't recoding popular icons destabilize culture? Relying on a cultural theory that prizes voice, not just exit, as a response to hegemony, we reply to these objections here.

Download the entire Article from SSRN here.
If the fan fiction phenomenon interests you, check out Henry Jenkins' blog here.
Professor Jenkins is the author of Textual Poachers, Convergence Culture, and What Made Pistachio Nuts? Read one of his recent articles in Reason Online here.

[Cross-posted to The Seamless Web]

April 30, 2007

Revisiting Inspector Morse

Last Friday's issue of The Independent has a wonderful article about the charms of Inspector Morse, that unique character created by Colin Dexter and brought to life by the late actor John Thaw. In addition to DVDs available from BFS Entertainment, you can enjoy the Inspector in print in any of Dexter's wonderful novels, many of which are also available in audio editions. Here's a link to the PBS webpage for Morse, and here's a link to a webpage for a walking tour of Inspector Morse's city.

Here are a few discussions of the character in literature and film.

Barker, Simon, “Period” Detective Drama and the Limits of Contemporary Nostalgia: Inspector Morse and the Strange Case of a Lost England, 6(2) Critical Survey 234-42 (1994).

Brodie, J. S., The Cult of Inspector Morse: A Contemporary Phenomenon, 38 Journal of Kyoritsu Women’s Junior College 79-87 (February 1995).

Decottignies, Jean, La vie poétique de l'inspecteur Morse: Un polar mélancolique (Grenoble, France: ELLUG; 2004).

Thomas, Lyn, In Love With Inspector Morse: Feminist Subculture and Quality Television, 51 Feminist Review 1-25 (Autumn 1995).

Sparks, Richard, Inspector Morse: “The Last Enemy”, in British Television Drama in the 1980s 86-102 (George W. Brandt ed., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993).

[Cross-posted to The Seamless Web].

April 18, 2007

The Duke Lacrosse Case as Narrative

Susan Hanley Kosse, University of Louisville School of Law, has published "Race, Riches, and Reporters: Do Race and Class Impact Media Rape Narratives? An Analysis of the Duke Lacrosse Case," in the 2007 Southern Illinois University Law Review. Here is the abstract.
Focusing on the Duke rape case as a case study, this Article analyzes magazine coverage using a labeling system from a previous study of media coverage of high profile rapes to determine whether race and class shape rape narratives. Part I of this Article is a brief background about narratives generally and their importance in the law. Part II summarizes the existing research on the topic of rape narratives and media coverage of these narratives. Part III analyzes the Duke case narratives and seeks to determine empirically whether race and class played a role in the exculpation or vilification of either party. The Article concludes by comparing the past studies of rape media coverage with this new data to provide insights and conclusions about media rape coverage today.

Download the entire paper from SSRN here.

April 13, 2007

Race and the Movies

N. Jeremi Duru, Temple University School of Law, has published "Friday Night "Lite": How Deracialization in the Motion Picture Friday Night Lights Disserves the Movement to Eradicate Racial Discrimination From American Sport," in volume 25 of the Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal. Here is the abstract.
Sport has a unique power to unite. The power of sport to unite, however, has unfortunately obscured the extent to which sport is beset with the sociological ills plaguing broader society. Indeed, there exists in contemporary America a widely-held belief that sport is a utopian realm immune to the issues of race with which society in general must grapple. This article examines this idyllic picture of sport and the extent to which, through suggesting an absence of discrimination, it frustrates much needed anti-discrimination efforts in the sporting community.

Decades after the United States Supreme Court issued its 1954 desegregation mandate in Brown v. Board of Education, Odessa, Texas - home to Permian High School - continued to struggle bitterly with racial discrimination and discord, so much so that in 1982 it was placed under a federal court order to effectuate the desegregation both promised and denied nearly thirty years earlier. As this article explores, the unfortunate result was an uneasy interaction among members of different races at Permian High School and in its vaunted football program, which led to substantial racial discord and discrimination reflective of vexatious issues plaguing American sport more broadly. Although these troubling issues at the intersection of race, law, and sport dominated the 1988 Permian football team's season and inspired a Pulitzer Prize winning author's investigative chronicle, Friday Night Lights, a 2004 motion picture of the same name purporting to tell the tale of that team radically de-racializes the story. This article argues that by recasting a true but disturbing story largely about the impact of race on interscholastic athletics into a highly fictionalized and de-racialized vehicle buttressing the idyllic picture, the motion picture Friday Night Lights disserves the movement to eradicate racial discrimination from American sport.

Download the entire Article from SSRN here.

[Cross posted to The Seamless Web]

April 1, 2007

Hamlet on Trial

From the NewsHour:
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy presided over a "trial" of Hamlet in a Kennedy Center production taking place during a six-month celebration of Shakespeare in Washington, D.C.

COURTROOM ANNOUNCER: In the matter of the Crown v. Prince Hamlet...

JEFFREY BROWN: It was a trial 400 years in the making. The courtroom was actually a stage at Washington's Kennedy Center. The defendant was a fictional character: Hamlet, prince of Denmark, he of "to be or not to be."

The judge was real, but Anthony Kennedy usually hears cases as a justice on the Supreme Court. Justice Kennedy first had the idea for "The Trial of Hamlet" some 13 years ago.

JUSTICE ANTHONY KENNEDY, U.S. Supreme Court: Prosecution here; defense here.

JEFFREY BROWN: Recently, he approached Michael Kahn, head of the Shakespeare Theater here, about staging it as part of a six-month celebration of the bard now underway in Washington, using real-life lawyers, expert witnesses, and a jury of adults, college and high school students.

At the Supreme Court a few hours before the event, I had a chance to ask Justice Kennedy: Why try Hamlet?

JUSTICE ANTHONY KENNEDY: It seemed to be, number one, an excellent way to get young people interested in Shakespeare and to understand the value of our literary heritage.

Then, too, there are some similarities between the law and literature. We in the law seek to find order in a disordered reality; we seek to find rationality in a world that seems chaotic. And the artist does the same thing, and Hamlet's trying to do the same thing. So there's a parallel.
MSN News reports:
In Shakespeare's play, the killing of Polonius occurs shortly after Hamlet returns to Denmark for the funeral of his father, the king of Denmark. A grieving Hamlet learns that his mother has married his uncle Claudius, the new king. A ghost tells Hamlet that Claudius murdered his father, and an enraged Hamlet vows revenge.

But Hamlet's plans go awry. He stabs Polonius, the councilor to the king, after hearing a noise behind a curtain and mistakenly thinking it is Claudius eavesdropping.

The split verdict by the 12 jurors, who were selected beforehand and deliberated for about 20 minutes, was a major blow for the four lawyers who argued the case.

"No Dane is above the law," San Francisco attorney Miles Ehrlich said in opening statements. "When you pick and choose your time to kill, you are in control."

In arguing that Hamlet was not insane, Ehrlich noted that Hamlet plotted to kill Claudius and nearly did so in a chapel while Claudius was praying. Hamlet decided to wait because he didn't want to send Claudius to heaven.

Alan Stone, a Harvard University professor of law and psychiatry, testified for the prosecution that Hamlet did not have a clear mental illness. Thousands of people have studied Hamlet's thoughts, the former president of the American Psychiatric Association said, "not because he was a madman but because he was brilliant."

Hamlet's vision of a ghost was not delusional, he argued, but was likely normal for his culture.

He said Hamlet was plotting to kill.

"Many of his puns are filled with anger and rage," Stone said. "He seems to think there is an audience."

In a heated exchange with Stone, Hamlet's attorneys argued that Hamlet, who sat silently through the proceedings and refused to take the stand in his own defense, showed clear signs of insanity.

"He talks to himself a lot, like a crazy person," said lawyer Abbe Lowell, whose clients have included convicted former GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff. "What about the soliloquies and the asides?"

But Stone rejected Lowell's claim that Hamlet's words, such as "To be or not to be?" were signs of a "suicidal funk."

Columbia University psychiatry professor Jeffrey Lieberman, testifying for the defense, said Hamlet's question "To be or not to be?" was one of history's best examples of ambivalence — a cardinal symptom of psychosis.

Lieberman said the voices Hamlet heard while suffering hallucinations were "as real as your voice is being perceived by me."

Kennedy conceived the production for the fourth time. Prior juries in Boston, Chicago and Washington have found Hamlet sane. The show was hosted by Michael Kahn, artistic director of Washington's Shakespeare Theatre Company.
The verdict?
The question of Hamlet's sanity remains unanswered after a Washington jury delivered an evenly split verdict on whether he should be held criminally responsible for the fatal stabbing of Polonius.
The Washington Post notes:
Almost every year since 1994, at least one Supreme Court justice has participated in a mock trial that uses a Shakespeare play to explore the American legal system.

March 29, 2007

Jessica Silbey on Film and Confession

Jessica Silbey, Suffolk University Law School, will publish "Criminal Performances: Film, Autobiography, and Confession," in the New Mexico Law Review. Here is the abstract.

This article questions the criminal justice emphasis on filmed confession as the superlative evidentiary proffer that promotes accuracy and minimizes unconstitutional coercion by comparing filmed confessions to autobiographical film. It suggests that analyzing filmed confessions as a kind of autobiographical film exposes helpful tensions between the law's reliance on confession as revealing the inner self and the literary and filmic conception of confession as constituting one self among many. Through a close examination of several filmed confessions along side an examination of the history of autobiographical writing and film, this article shows how filmed confessions do not reveal the truthfulness or honesty of the defendant's statement. To the contrary, close examination of filmed confessions evidences the performative aspect of all confessional acts.

Like autobiographical film subjects, filmed defendants perform their criminality, or enact their legal identity as guilty on film. Framing the confession through a film camera (as increasingly police and detectives do) stresses the qualities of confessional speech as always in the process of forming an identity, and therefore as inherently unstable and manifold. Building on an earlier article that criticizes the nationwide trend that requires the filming of criminal confessions by comparing filmed confessions to a form of documentary filmmaking, this article engages the same critique by examining filmed confessions as a form of autobiographical film. Doing so relocates the analysis of the filmed confessions from one of truthfulness and voluntariness of the spoken confession to one of advocacy and persuasion by the speaking subject. Analysis of several filmed confessions shows how filmed confessions are more akin to filmed autobiographies: performances of identity in relation to the constraints of the discursive medium (the interrogation). What we learn from the filmed confession is the limits of film and of law to reveal the truth of the crime. This critical perspective undermines the state's assertion that filmed confessions unambiguously denote the defendant's voluntary recitation of his criminal act.

Download the entire paper here from SSRN.

[Cross-posted to the Seamless Web].

March 22, 2007

International Law, Literature, and Introspection

My former colleague Christopher Blakesley, now of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Law School, ruminates on the intersection among law, literature and self-reflection in a blogpost here at a new blog devoted to international penal law. Montaigne carried the art of self-study and introspection to a high art centuries ago; Professor Blakesley suggests that it's time to give it another go, and that literature can assist us. The blog at which he and other experts in international criminal law post is newly launched; it's called the AIDP Blog. Check it out here.

Cross-posted in slightly different format at The Seamless Web.

March 21, 2007

Paul J. Heald and Steve Allen

Paul J. Heald has published "Meeting of the Minds, Episode II: A Dark and Angry God Arises," as UGA Legal Studies Research Paper 007-06. Here is the abstract.

In 1988, Professor Heald found a lost manuscript of Steve Allen's groundbreaking television show, “A Meeting of the Minds.” In that episode, published in 6 J. of Law & Rel. 279, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Mark Kelman, Blaise Pascal, and Richard Posner discussed the nature of law. While completing renovation of a house, possibly visited by Allen, Heald recently found another manuscript jammed on top of an old water tank. The present episode reveals a lively discussion of Columbine, the death penalty, and the nature of retribution between Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 B.C.-65 A.D.), C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), Jerry Falwell, and Milner Ball.

Download the entire paper from SSRN here.

March 18, 2007

The Shakespeare Authorship Question

Today's Washington Post contains two articles taking different sides to the question of whether Shakespeare is the true author of his works.

An article by Roger Stritmatter (vice chairman of the Shakespeare Fellowship and a professor of English at Coppin State University) rehearses the doubts as to Shakespeare's authorship:
Mark Twain quipped that every relevant fact known about the Stratford author would fit on a postcard, and another century of literary biography hasn't changed that. Shakespearean professionals begin by noting that there is a Shakespeare monument in Holy Trinity Church at Stratford and go on from there to imagine almost everything else. They have to. They have a monument without a man.

Outside the university, though, populist resistance to the author from Stratford has persisted for two centuries. Skeptics have been divided on their support for one candidate or another -- Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, Queen Elizabeth I or Edward de Vere, the 17th earl of Oxford -- but we all believe that the real author was forced to conceal his identity and allow his works to be published under another man's name.

We are not just unrepentant conspiracy theorists who lie awake at night concocting unverifiable historical scenarios and contriving pseudoscientific cryptograms while ignoring the undeniable facts of Shakespeare's career. We're struck by the fact that all the speculation the biographers engage in to fill the gaps in our knowledge of Shakespeare reveals a man who contradicted the literary thumbprint of his creation in every way. Their author was a huge commercial success -- but "Hamlet" satirically inveighs against buyers and sellers of land. Their author never left England -- but 16 of the plays are set in Italy or the Mediterranean. There is no evidence that their author owned any books -- but the man who wrote Shakespeare clearly devoured all the most important books of his generation.

"Shall I set down the rest of the Conjectures which constitute [Shakespeare's] giant Biography?" Twain wrote in 1909. "It would strain the unabridged Dictionary to hold them." In 1984, Richmond Crinkley, the late director of educational programs at the Folger Shakespeare Library, acknowledged that "doubts about Shakespeare arose early. They have a simple and direct plausibility." Henry James was blunt: "I am 'sort of' haunted by the conviction that the divine William is the biggest and most successful fraud ever practiced on a patient world."

The list of skeptics reads like a Who's Who of the English-speaking world: Washington Irving, James Joyce, Sigmund Freud, Herman Melville, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Helen Keller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, Malcolm X, Leslie Howard, Sir John Gielgud, Sir Derek Jacobi, Michael York, Jeremy Irons, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, and many more. And the ranks keep growing.

But modern Shakespearean studies are founded on the undeviating principle that rational authorities -- i.e. "Shakespeareans" -- do not discuss the authorship question. Beyond this, we seem to be deeply invested in a view of the Bard as a creator in our own image. Born to a comfortable middle-class existence, he evades the stark class realities of Elizabethan society and conquers the literary world through Will-power, re-creating the lives of kings, queens and courtiers simply by deploying his superabundant imagination.

Stritmatter believes that the true author was Edward de Vere:

Since 1920, when Englishman John Thomas Looney wrote "Shakespeare Identified," a clear solution to this enigma has been staring orthodox Shakespeareans in the face: Edward de Vere, the 17th earl of Oxford, a man known for his disregard of class protocols and his passionate devotion to the theater, was Cecil's ward and later his unhappy son-in-law. He was a man with the means, the opportunity and, above all, the motive to write "Hamlet." Frustrated in his political ambitions at court, he spent a lifetime selling off his vast inherited estates to pay his creditors and pursue his literary ambitions. Like the misanthropic Jaques in "As You Like It," he literally sold his own lands to see the lands of other men.

The most "Italianate" Englishman of his generation, he toured the Tuscan cities that are featured so prominently in Shakespearean plays, and built a house for himself in Venice only blocks from the Jewish ghetto. His life, in myriad ways, illumines the Shakespearean oeuvre and becomes the touchstone for grasping the meaning of many obscure passages in the plays.

An article by Stanley Wells (chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and author of Shakespeare & Co.) argues that Shakespeare was indeed the true author:

The nonsense started around 1785. That was the year a Warwickshire clergyman fantasized that William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon was not the author of the works everyone had until then supposed he had written. In doing so, he laid the foundations of the so-called authorship question, which has grown into an immense monument to human folly.

Shakespeare by then had been dead for 159 years, and was acclaimed as the author of 37 plays, two long narrative poems, 154 sonnets and a handful of other poems. No one up to then had doubted that he wrote them; nor was there any reason to. There were numerous printed references in his lifetime and soon afterward to William Shakespeare as the author of the poems and plays acted and published as his. Most of the references were in books or manuscripts by writers whose names are known nowadays only to scholars, but it doesn't make them any less believable. . . .

Then there are Shakespeare's own published works. His full name appears on the dedications of the two long poems, in 1593 and 1594, and on their title pages. It is printed on the title pages of many of his plays from 1598 onward, on reprints of the poems (which were very popular), and on the first edition of the Sonnets, in 1609. In that book, another poem, "A Lover's Complaint," is also printed with a separate statement that William Shakespeare wrote it. And seven years after he died, his collected plays were printed in the great book called "Mr William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies," now usually referred to as the First Folio. It includes an engraved portrait of the author.

So there are many references to William Shakespeare in his lifetime and soon afterward as the man who penned the plays and poems, and there is nothing to suggest that he did not write them. People who question his authorship often say, "Ah, yes, but there's nothing to prove that he was the William Shakespeare of Stratford," and then go on to invent conspiracy theories that somehow Shakespeare (if they admit that he existed) was the pen name of writers who were so modest that they not only concealed the fact that they had written the greatest plays ever, but also were so generous as to allow an obscure actor to take all the credit. . . .

The most common arguments that Shakespeare of Stratford could not have written the works are that he is not known to have traveled overseas, that he was of relatively humble origins and that he came from a small provincial town where he could not have received a good enough education to have written the plays. The facts are that the works show no knowledge of countries that could not have been obtained from books or from conversation, that you don't have to be an aristocrat to be a great writer -- Jonson was the son of a bricklayer, Marlowe's father was a cobbler -- and that Stratford had a good grammar school whose pupils received a far more rigorous education in the classics than most university graduates today.

The debate about Shakespeare's authorship has been going on for some time, and the articles don't raise any new arguments, but they are nevertheless an interesting summary of the debate.