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.