Section Description Provided by Instructor
LAW 6500: CONNECTIONS OF LAW AND LITERATURE
Professor Robert A. Ferguson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
We will explore the uses of literature in understanding the theory and the practice of law. At one level, seminal literary texts that every lawyer should know will provide a proving ground for examining legal norms and professional performance. At another level, we will be using both literature and literary criticism to study the nature of legal language. What are the common rhetorical and linguistic devices that every lawyer employs more-or-less unawares? How do the uses and misuses of these devices produce the stereotypes that control popular understanding of the legal process and how can we guard ourselves against those stereotypes? How can a heightened appreciation of the artifice in language help to bring success in the advocacy process? At a third level, attention will be given to scholarly debates in law and literature for what they can tell us about the nature of legal education today.
The course will also aim for a cumulative but still practical sense of legal eloquence and its components. A proper knowledge of context, audience, narrative form, rhetorical strategy, storytelling, point of view, generic awareness, and description will remind you that a good mouthpiece is first and always a careful wordsmith.
1. Charles Dickens? Bleak House preferably in the Norton Critical Edition, will be used in
every class. Course members are required to read this novel before the course begins.
2. Regular, Informed, and Constructive Participation in All Classes.
3. A one page summary of proposed paper topic due on or before Monday, November 7th.
4. A 2500-word essay on a topic approved by the instructor due on or before Monday, December 5th.
5. A final examination.
REQUIRED TEXTS AVAILABLE THROUGH BOOK CULTURE (536 W. 112th Street).
1. Robert Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (Vintage, Random Paperback).
2. Truman Capote, In Cold Blood (Paperback: Random House).
3. Charles Dickens, Bleak House (Norton Critical Edition Paperback).
4. Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird (Little, Brown Paperback).
5. Herman Melville, Bartleby and Benito Cereno (Dover Thrift Edition Paperback).
6. Herman Melville, Billy Budd (An Inside Narrative) (Phoenix Paperback).
7. William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure (Arden Paperback).
8. William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice (Bantam Paperback).
9. Bernard Schlink, The Reader (Pantheon Paperback).
10. A Xeroxed Packet of Materials Through Columbia Law School.
SECONDARY WORKS ON LIBRARY RESERVE.
1. Guyora Binder and Robert Weisberg, eds., Literary Criticisms of Law (2000).
2. P. Brooks and P. Gewirtz, eds., Law?s Stories: Narrative and Rhetoric in the Law (1996).
3. Robert A. Ferguson, The Trial in American Life (2007).
4. Stanley Fish, Doing What Comes Naturally: Change, Rhetoric, and the Practice of Theory
in Literary and Legal Studies (1989).
5. Martha C. Nussbaum, Poetic Justice: The Literary Imagination and Public Life (1995).
6. Richard C. Posner, Law and Literature: A Misunderstood Relation (1988).
7. Richard Weisberg, Poethics and Other Strategies of Law & Literature (1992).
OFFICE HOURS: Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in JG 521 and by appointment (212-854-7992).
ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT: Gabriel Soto: JG 700/2 (212-854-0522) (email@example.com).
MW 9:10 –10:30 a.m.
Method of Evaluation
Paper and Exam
J.D. Writing Credit
Charles Dickens' Bleak House will be used in every class. Course members must read this novel before the course begins.