November 30, 2009

Religious Leaders and Constitutional Law

John M. Kang, St. Thomas University School of Law, has published "Appeal to Heaven: On the Religious Origins of the Constitutional Right of Revolution," at 18 William & Mary Bill of Rights 281 (2009). Here is the abstract.

This Article explores the religious origins of the right to alter or abolish government. I show in Part I that the right was widely accepted among the American colonies as expressed through their constitutions and, later, the federal constitution. In Part II, I usher the reader back in time and across the continent to seventeenth century England. There, I introduce two men who would have abhorred everything about American constitutional democracy - King James I and the philosopher Sir Robert Filmer. Both men, prominent in their respective domains of authority, devoted themselves to the governing axiom that kings were bequeathed a right by God to absolute rule. Part III sketches the seventeenth century arguments of two other Englishmen, also prominent--the philosophers John Locke and Algernon Sidney - who challenged James and Filmer. Locke and Sidney argued that God had never sanctioned the divine right of kings and instead had justified the people’s right to overthrow tyrants.

The arguments of Locke and Sidney will, as I show in subsequent sections, influence the American clergy who supported war against Britain and the right of revolution in general. Indeed, the development of this connection will occupy me for the remainder of the Article, but, in Part IV, I take a brief respite to summarize the historical circumstances that severely hampered governmental control over religion in colonial America and thus provided partially autonomous spaces for people to reflect on religion, including in ways that would inform their right to alter or abolish government. I illustrate in Part V how several prominent American clergymen, following Locke and Sidney, rejected as impossible the divine and supposedly infallible status of rulers. God, the clergy insisted, was the only one who could claim such infallibility; the clergy warned that rulers would do well to devote themselves to the people’s well being, not the former’s aggrandizement. In Part VI, I argue that, again echoing Locke and Sidney, a prominent group of American clergymen insisted that, contrary to the anti-democratic jeers of monarchists, God had given people the capacity for reason which enabled them to make meaningful decisions about their political future. I conclude in Part VII by illustrating how the federal and state constitutions following the American Revolution sought to protect conditions for the faithful to contemplate the religious meaning of the right to alter or abolish government.

Download the article at the link.

November 22, 2009

Law and Art

A couple of articles on law and the art by the New York Times' Adam Liptak: here on Daniel Moore and here on Donald Johnson, serving three life terms for murder.

November 20, 2009

Singing About Species

Charles Darwin has his own minstrel. The Scientist's Victoria Stern writes about Philadelphia entertainer Brett Keyser, who sings about Mr. Darwin's accomplishments, both on the street and in a one-man show called "Darwinii: The Comeuppance of Man." Read more here (subscription; free).

Meanwhile, former child star and current creation science activist Kirk Cameron is engaged in a new project: handing out copies of The Origin of Species on college campuses, but he and his colleagues don't exactly want university students to come to Darwin. These copies of Mr. Darwin's seminal work have a new introduction that seeks to show why it's flawed. According to recent media reports,

The 50 page introduction that Cameron helped pen includes passages that link Darwins work with Nazi eugenics and overall mysogyny.

"You can see where [Hitler] clearly takes Darwin's ideas to some of their logical conclusions and compares certain races of people to lower evolutionary life forms," Cameron told People. "If you take Darwin's theory and extend it to its logical end, it can be used to justify all number of very horrendous things.

But Mr. Cameron may not be getting through. Said one student, "I don't think they are accomplishing what they set out to do. All these people are getting a free 'Origin of Species.' If they read the book they'll see through (the introduction)...". Read more here in a Christian Science Monitor article.

The Right of Publicity and "Crime of the Century" Cases

Edward Larson, Pepperdine University School of Law, has published "Murder Will Out: Rethinking the Right of Publicity Through One Classic Case," in volume 26 Rutgers Law Review (2009). Here is the abstract.

In this forthcoming article, the author uses the protracted legal battles over the right of publicity stemming from the lasting celebrity created by the so-called “crime of the century” to propose a legal test for applying the right of publicity generally. These legal battles were fought during the 1960s over the right of celebrity slayer Nathan Leopold to control the use of his name and personality in a novel, movie, and stage play. After conflicting lower court decisions that had a chilling effect on writers and publishers, the case was eventually decided against Leopold. The author agrees with this result but argues that, because there has been a tendency to decide such disputes on a case-by-case basis, similar uncertainty continues to arise in analogous cases. He proposes a clear test, easily understood by both creators and users of celebrity personality, which would balance the interests of the parties and bring added predictability to this area of the law.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

It's a Wonderful Life, Mr. Scrooge, and Other Tales From La La Land

Larry E. Ribstein, University of Illinois College of Law, has published "How Movies Created the Financial Crisis", in the Michigan State Law Review for Winter 2009. Here is the abstract.

Narrative makes sense out of reality and can forcefully persuade listeners to a particular point of view. Artists in general have a narrative of business which springs from their belief that at least some aspects of business are antithetical to art. Filmmakers add to this a resentment of the constraints capital places on their art. Film is particularly persuasive because of its vivid images and because of the consistency of filmmakers’ anti-capitalist perspective on business. Filmmakers’ negative portrayal of capitalists has helped to prepare the public to believe that capitalists - and not government, economic cycles, greedy people or business generally - caused the financial crisis. This will help the public accept a regulatory agenda built on this premise, specifically including the regulation of hedge funds.

Download the Article from SSRN at the link.

Law, Humanities and the Medical Curriculum

Jennifer Bard, Texas Tech University School of Law, Thomas William Mayo, Southern Methodist School of Law, and Stacey A. Tovino, Drake University School of Law have published "Three Ways of Looking at a Health Law and Literature Class," in volume 1 of Drexel Law Review (Summer 2009). Here is the abstract.

The authors of this Article participated in a panel at the American Society of Law, Ethics & Medicine Conference in 2008 that discussed the use of literary materials in law school to teach medical ethics (and related matters) in a law school setting. Each author comes at the topic from a different perspective based on his or her own experience and background. This Article and the panel on which it was based reflect views on how literature can play a valuable role in helping law students, as well as medical students, understand important legal and ethical issues and concepts in health law and bioethics.

In Part I, Stacey Tovino introduces the parallel fields of “literature and medicine” and “law and literature” and identifies several common approaches to the use of literature, literary non-fiction, and illness narratives in medical and law school curricula. Tovino places current coursework in Law, Literature, and Medicine in its proper historical and pedagogical context.

In Part II, Tom Mayo describes the Law, Literature, and Medicine seminar he offers to third-year law students at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law and fourth-year medical students at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. Mayo examines the features of his course that make it effective, suggests literature that may be used by health law professors who do not have the opportunity to teach a seminar devoted to literature, and comments on the ongoing medical humanities debate.

In Part III, Jennifer Bard describes the Law, Medicine, and Literature course she offered for the first time at Texas Tech University School of Law during the Spring 2008 semester. Bard examines the texts and films she assigned to build a working knowledge of medicine and science and the literature she selected to immerse her students in medico-legal situations with which they were unfamiliar.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

November 19, 2009

LCCHP Announces Winners of Annual Student Writing Competition

From the Lawyers' Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation (LCCHP)

The Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation (LCCHP) is pleased to announce the winners of its 2009 annual student writing competition, sponsored by Andrews Kurth LLP. The first-place winner is Amelia Sargent of Stanford University Law School for a paper entitled “New Jurisdictional Tools for Displaced Cultural Property in Russia: From ‘Twice Saved’ to ‘Twice Taken’”. The second-place winner is Melanie Greer of DePaul University College of Law for her paper entitled “Deaccessioning: A Necessary Evil?”. An honorable mention went to “The Limits of the Law: The Impact of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Trade in Illicit Cambodian Antiquities”, by Terressa Davis of the University of Georgia.
Both winning papers will be published in the 2010 Yearbook of Cultural Property Law. The finalist paper, “Complying with NAGPRA’s Pesticide Provision: A Best Practice Guide” by Lydia Grunstra of American University Washington College of Law will also be published in the next issue of the Yearbook.
Due to the generosity of Andrews Kurth’s DC office, the first-place winner will receive an award of $1000 and the second-place winner will receive an award of $500. This is the fifth annual LCCHP competition, and it attracted twenty-six entries from nineteen law schools, the largest numbers of entries and law schools represented in any prior competition. We also want to thank this year’s writing competition selection committee, chaired by Sherry Hutt, and including Ricardo St. Hilaire, Lucille Roussin and Gillian Bearns.
For the third year, LCCHP is pleased to partner with Andrews Kurth in offering this competition as a means of expanding the teaching of cultural heritage preservation law in U.S. law schools. LCCHP is a nonprofit organization of lawyers, law students and interested members of the public who have joined together to promote the preservation and protection of cultural heritage resources in the United States and internationally through education and advocacy.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation is an organization of lawyers, professors, and like-minded friends who have joined together to promote the preservation and protection of cultural heritage resources in the United States and internationally through education, outreach and advocacy. Cultural heritage law is a growing legal field, as our society comes to appreciate the important symbolic, historical, and emotional role that cultural heritage plays in our lives. Cultural heritage law encompasses several disparate areas, including the protection of archaeological sites, preservation of historic structures and the built environment, preservation of and respect for both tangible and intangible indigenous cultures, international market in art works and antiquities, and recovery of stolen art works. Please visit the LCCHP web site at for more information and watch the site and your email for the upcoming announcement of the 2010 student writing competition.
About Andrews Kurth LLP
For more than a century, Andrews Kurth LLP has built its practice on the belief that "straight talk is good business." Real answers, clear vision and mutual respect define the firm's relationships with clients, colleagues, communities and employees. The firm has represented government and quasi-governmental institutions, museums, churches, foundations, families and private individuals from around the globe on the legal aspects of art and antiquities recovery in U.S. courts. With more than 400 lawyers and offices in Austin, Beijing, Dallas, Houston, London, Los Angeles, New York, The Woodlands and Washington, DC, Andrews Kurth represents a wide array of clients in all areas of business law.?More information about the firm’s art and cultural property practice may be found online at:

Translation, Comparative Law, and Localism

P. G. Monateri, University of Turin School of Law has published "'Cunning Passages': Traductology, Comparison and Ideology in the Law and Language Story." Here is the abstract.
My standpoint in this paper is that in affording the subject of Law and Language we face a mass of “local issues”, and “local puzzles”, but that we still lack a theory to grasp with the bulk of the matter. Al this becomes peculiarly embarrassing in the age of development of “English-only” movements, and facing the rise of a rather new and framed field of studies like “traductology” that would of course, but do not actually, interplay with comparaison especially in the field of Law. In my paper I just try to look around the package of some received ideas, in order to clean the blackboard before trying to build up something newer. Thus in the first section I cope with two prevailing theories: 1.) the theory of the language as a “social glue”, which is dominant and emerging from the present American political debate; 2.) the theory of the “analogy” between Law and Language as spontaneously ordered complex phenomena; then in a second section I try to trace back these ideas in the time of the “Birth of Comparativism” in the early 19th century. In so doing i deal with: 1.) the birth of Indo-European Family in Comparative Linguistics, and, 2.) the birth of Legal Comparativism within the context of the German Legal Historicism, in the same span of time. Finally I try to show how all these conceptions are nested details of a more general consciousness with broad political implications in terms of projects of governance. Then according to my views neither language studies nor traductology can be treated as pure subject deprived of a strong political commitment. Both are field where “choices for candor” are not at hand.

Download the paper at the link.

November 17, 2009

Reza Banakar, University of Westminster School of Law, has published "In Search of Heimat: A Note on Franz Kafka’s Concept of Law," in volume 22 of Law and Literature (Summer 2010). Here is the abstract.
Are Franz Kafka’s descriptions of law and legality a figment of his imagination or do they go beyond his obsessive probing of his neurosis, reflecting issues which also engaged the social and legal theorists of the time? Does Kafka’s conception of law offer anything new in respect to law, justice and bureaucracy, which was not explored by his contemporaries or by later legal scholars? This paper uses Kafka’s office writings as a starting point for re-examining the images of law, bureaucracy, hierarchy and authority in his fiction; images which are traditionally treated as metaphors for things other than law. It will argue that the legal images in Kafka’s fiction are worthy of examination, not only because of their bewildering, enigmatic, bizarre, profane and alienating effects, or because of the deeper theological or existential meaning they suggest, but also as a particular concept of law and legality which operates paradoxically as an integral part of the human condition under modernity. To explore this point Kafka’s conception of law is placed in the context of his overall writing as a search for Heimat which takes us beyond the instrumental understanding of law advocated by various schools of legal positivism and allows us to grasp law as a form of experience.

Download from SSRN at the link.

November 16, 2009

Positions Open

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF LAW and SOCIETY JOB DESCRIPTION: Successful candidates will be expected to teach courses in each of the following categories: (1) Introduction to Law and Society and/or Introduction to Law and Justice, (2) Comparative Legal Systems, American Legal History, Contemporary Issues in Law and Society, and/or Legal Rhetoric, (3) Directed Readings and Thesis Supervision and (4) electives of the major. Rank and salary based on qualifications and experience. REQUIREMENTS: Ph.D. required by start date in social science area relevant to the study and teaching of socio-legal phenomena including, but not limited to anthropology, area studies, communications/media, criminology, economics, gender/women's studies, geography, history, interdisciplinary studies, linguistics, philosophy, psychology, political science, sexuality, social work or sociology, etc.; and J.D. with practical experience strongly recommended. Scholarship (or promise thereof) on critical socio-legal theory involving race, gender, class and/or similar categories of inequality required. Inquiries may be directed to Dr. Aaron R.S. Lorenz, Search Committee Chair, School of Social Science and Human Services. To request accommodations, call (201) 684-7732.

All applications must be completed online at: Attach resume, cover letter, statement of teaching philosophy, research interests and a list of three references to your completed application. Since its beginning, Ramapo College has had an intercultural/international mission. Please tell us how your background, interest and experience can contribute to this mission, as well as to the specific position for which you are applying. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the positions are filled. Positions offer excellent state benefits. Applications will not be accepted by mail or email. Ramapo College Of New Jersey RAMAPO COLLEGE OF NEW JERSEY 505 Ramapo Valley Road, Mahwah, NJ 07430 Ramapo College is a member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC), a national alliance of leading liberal arts colleges in the public sector. EEO/AFFIRMATIVE ACTION.

Conference on Legal Fictions in Early Cultures, UCI

From Robin S. Stewart, Department of English, University of California, Irvine, Information on the Webcast of the UCI Graduate Student Conference "Legal Fictions in Early Cultures"

Here's the link to the online version of the conference: for those who like to do podcasts on their I-pods, here's a link to the mp3 files of all the panels (just scroll down to files posted on November 13 & 14 to find them):*.mp3

Information on the Panels and Presenters:

The Group for the Study of Early Cultures at the University of California, Irvine presents its Second Annual Graduate Student Conference:

"Legal Fictions in Early Cultures"
With a key-note address by Laurie Shannon, Associate Professor of English and the Wender Lewis Teaching and Research Professor, Northwestern University

Co-sponsored by the Humanities Center, the Center in Law, Society and Culture, the Department of English, and the UCI Chancellor's Fellows Program.

“…fictions are to law what fraud is to trade.” –Jeremy Bentham

This conference explores the intersection between the practice of law and other forms of extra-legal thought (including literary, theological, artistic or social) and the figural extension of both to cultural expression. Graduate students from various departments (including Classics, Comparative Literature, Drama, English, German, History, Spanish, and Rhetoric) at UCI and from across the country presented papers exploring the concept of "legal fiction" in historical periods ranging from antiquity to the early 19th century.

Organized by Robin S. Stewart (UCI Department of English), C.J. Gordon (UCI Department of Comparative Literature), and Alex Perkins (UCI Department of Classics)

November 13, 2009

Panel 1: Illegal Fictions

CJ Gordon, UC Irvine (Comparative Literature), “Bread God, Blood God:
Mandatory Fictions in Late Medieval Eucharistic Piety”

Nicolette Bruner, University of Michigan (English), “False Prophets:
Justice, Law, and Prescience in Njáls Saga"

Jennifer Nelson, Yale University (Art History), “Salvation History on
Trial: Visual and Legal Representation in Bellaert’s Belial of 1484”

Panel 2: Writing Jurisdictions

K-Sue Park, UC Berkeley (Rhetoric), “On Law, the Legal Document and
Legitimacy: Revisiting the Requerimiento”

Paul Johnson, UC Irvine (Spanish), "The Legal and Literary Status (es) of the Early Modern Spanish Captive”

Macy Todd, NYU (English), "Verdicts North and South: Irish Law in Spenser and Carleton"

Keynote Address

Laurie Shannon, Northwestern University, "In the Beginning: Genesis, Animal Entitlement, and the Legal Fiction of Human Authority in Early Modernity"

Panel 3: Fictiones Legales

Éloïse Lemay, University of Western Ontario (Classics), “Quantum interrx nobis!”

Michael W. Heil, Columbia University (History), "The Uses of the Placitum in the Late Tenth Century: the Example of Cremona"

Alex Perkins, UC Irvine (Classics), “Citizens of God: Early Christian Identity and the Ethereal Boundaries of Augustine’s Civitas Dei”

Panel 4: Women, Men, and the Law in Early Modern England

Laura Nowocin, Miami University (English), "My will shall be to me instead of law”: Silence, Excess, and the Female Petitioner in the Seventeenth-Century Court Masque

Josh Pearson, Kansas State University (English), “The Husband’s Office”:
The Doubling of Domestic and Civil Power in A Comedy of Errors

Lisa M. Barksdale-Shaw, Michigan State University (English), “But now her price is fall’n”: Devalued Brides, Disappearing Dowries, and the Legal Economies of Marriage in Shakespeare’s Lear

Daniel Bergen, Marquette University (English), "The Female Ungoverned: The Case of Thomas Crowther vs. Elizabeth Moorfoote"

November 14, 2009

Panel 5: Narrative and Adjudication

Nicole Wright, Yale University (English), “The consciousness of being half-caught in the act”: Self-awareness, culpability and “legal dignity”
in Walter Scott’s later novel

Jeff Wilson, UC Irvine (English), “Straightening Out the Tudor Myth:
Politics, Law, and the Modern Audience of the Shakespearean History Play”

Panel 6: Legal Alchemy

Jenny Liou, UC Irvine (English), "Not Betraying but Translating: Treason and the Legal Fictions of Restoration Science"

Jackie Way, UC Irvine (English), "The Magical Nature of the Law in Eliza Haywood’s Adventures of Eovaai"

Dan Keegan, UC Irvine (Drama), “Of A Montebank: The Poison Effect in Hamlet"

Anannya Dasgupta, Rutgers University (English), “I’ll bring thee rogue within the statute of sorcery”: Vagrancy, Witchcraft and Secular Law in Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist

Panel 7: The Medieval Legal Character

Patrick Blong, UC Irvine (English), “The Word: Providence and Law in the Towneley Cycle”

Jonathan Fine, UC Irvine (German), “Judge as Figure/Judge as Function: The Role of Judgment in Late Medieval German Literature”

Elizabeth Strakhov, University of Pennsylvania (Comparative Literature), "Historical Fiction and the Practice of Rhetoric: Chaucer's Man of Law"

November 10, 2009

Legal Fictions

Nancy J. Knauer, Temple University School of Law, has published Legal Fictions and Juristic Truth, in volume 22 of St. Thomas Law Review (2010). Here is the abstract.

The classic legal fiction is a curious artifice of legal reasoning. In a discipline primarily concerned with issues of fact and responsibility, the notion of a legal fiction should seem an anathema or, at the very least, an ill-suited means to promote a just result. However, the deployment of a patently false statement as a necessary component of a legal rule is a widely practiced and accepted mode of legal analysis. In rem forfeiture proceedings rest on the fiction that the inanimate object was bad. Attractive nuisance re-imagines the child trespasser as an invitee. A host of doctrines bearing the term "constructive" in their titles adopt an "as if" rationalization that deems something to have occurred despite the fact that it did not (e.g., constructive notice, constructive eviction, and constructive discharge).

Legal commentators writing in the diverse fields of law and literature, tax policy, and empirical legal studies have taken a renewed interest in legal fictions, including Fuller’s influential work from the 1930s. They have applied the label "legal fiction" to an eclectic group of legal rules, including slavery, the doctrine of discovery, the tax code, and empirically erroneous legal presumptions (i.e., discredited legal regimes, complex statutory schemes, and empirical legal errors). These newly identified legal fictions do not satisfy Fuller’s classic definition of a legal fiction because they are neither acknowledged to be false nor demonstrably false. The enduring conundrum presented by the classic legal fiction is that it retains its utility despite its falsity, similar to false statements used in science and mathematics in order to advance a proof or hypothesis.

Any discussion of fiction necessarily invokes a concept of reality against which the fiction can be measured. Thus, before we can speak intelligibly of fictions, we must first be able to identify truth. Does it make any sense to refer to slavery as a fiction when it was, in fact, a legal system that brutalized millions? Is the choice of a tax base "false" simply because it is statutorily prescribed? Certain legal rules, such as those governing eye witness testimony, explicitly incorporate statements of fact that are readily verifiable by reference to real world events. Slavery and the doctrine of discovery encompass abstract concepts, such as liberty, autonomy and sovereignty that are not provable in any conventional sense of the term. They stand as juristic truths independent from questions of empirical proof.

Fuller cautioned that a legal fiction becomes dangerous when it is believed for then the fiction can approximate a lie, but there is also danger when the force of its constitutive power is ignored. When this occurs, the label of fiction works a denial and removes from memory important lessons regarding the law and the fragility of the human experience

Download via the link.

November 5, 2009

The Significance of the Charles River Bridge Case

Alfred S. Konefsky, University at Buffalo Law School, SUNY, has published "Simon Greenleaf, Boston Elites and the Social Meaning and Construction of the Charles River Bridge Case," in Transformations in American Law: Essays in Honor of Morton J. Horowitz (sic), vol. II (Daniel Hamilton & Alfred Brophy, eds. Harvard University Press, forthcoming). Here is the abstract.

This essay examines the complexity of the social and cultural forces in antebellum Boston that led to the framing and resolution of the legal and constitutional issues in the Charles River Bridge Case. Though often viewed as a clash between models of economic development, the lines of conflict in the case in reality were first honed in pamphlet wars in the early Jacksonian turmoil of the 1820s focusing on other often overlooked contemporaneous Boston free bridge disputes and the birth of a free bridge political party. Boston elites were pejoratively termed “aristocrats” for their support of the Charles River Bridge franchise and accused of defending the creation of exclusive and monopolistic privilege and property through government grant, while proponents of a new competing - and ultimately free - bridge were castigated as “agrarians” and accused of forcibly taking property in order to equalize its distribution in the face of a state-sanctioned privilege. The driving force of the dispute, therefore, turned out to be the acute social anxiety and stress of Boston’s investors and commercial elites. No one better signifies the contours of the struggle than Simon Greenleaf, recently arrived in Cambridge as a law professor at Harvard. Greenleaf, as one of the lawyers for the competing Warren Bridge, stood in opposition to the established Charles River Bridge interests and was responsible for shaping the legal arguments that ultimately prevailed. For that sin, he was pilloried in the public press and ostracized in the community. Greenleaf’s unhappy experience then becomes a metaphor of sorts, allowing us to appreciate how understanding a social environment can assist us in cracking the code of legal arguments, particularly in this instance early Contract Clause and Takings jurisprudence. In the process of examining this historical episode, we might wish to consider under what conditions legal history might be entitled to call itself a form of social history and to speculate whether the critical question for legal historians interrogating these events is not whether law matters, but rather of what matter law is made.

Download the abstract from SSRN here.

November 4, 2009

Law, Text, Terror

Ian Ward, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Faculty of Law, has published Law, Text, Terror, forthcoming from Cambridge University Press. Here is the abstract.
The relationship between law and terrorism has re-emerged recently as a pressing issue in contemporary jurisprudence. Terrorism appears to take law to its limit, whilst the demands of counter-terrorism hold the cause of justice in contempt. At this point the case for engaging alternative intellectual approaches and resources is compelling. Ian Ward argues that through a closer appreciation of the ethical and aesthetical dimensions of terror, as well as the historical, political and cultural, we can better comprehend modern expressions and experiences of terrorism. For this reason, alongside juristic responses to modern expressions of terrorism, Law, Text, Terror examines a variety of supplementary literary texts as well as alternative intellectual approaches; from the drama of Euripides and Shakespeare, to the rhetoric and poetry of Burke and Shelley, the literary feminisms of Lessing and Rame, and the narrative existentialism of Conrad, Coetzee, Dostoevsky and DeLillo.