What Screen Do You Have in Mind? Contesting the Visual Context of Law and Film Studies
STUDIES IN LAW, POLITICS AND SOCIETY, Austin Sarat, ed., Elsevier, 2008
28 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2008
Law on the screen gives rise to a distinct way of doing jurisprudence. In this sense, it is incumbent upon legal scholars to discern with great care the kind of reality and the way of being that cinematic and electronic screens invite us to assume. Jurisprudence theorizes law in accordance with the cultural and cognitive meaning making tools at its disposal: story frames, character types, social scenarios, metaphors, as well as cultural and socially embedded or constructed emotional patterns, among other narratival and purely sensational elements. Law and film studies thus may be viewed as encompassing a larger concern with mind and culture. It addresses how a specific set of communication tools in a given socio-legal context polices the production, maintenance, and suppression of meaning and discrete meaning making practices. This aspect of the field implicates a rich agenda for empirical research. And by showing how it is done - how the manifold ways of habituated meaning making produce, preserve, and exclude possible worlds as well as ways of being (seeing/experiencing) - visual legal studies may also help to clear a path toward creative reconstruction. In this respect, law on the screen scholarship invites an empirical as well as an emancipatory practice, a source of knowledge as well as a call to action against false necessity.
Keywords: visual legal studies, law and film, visual theory, jurisprudence, law and technology, law and society, cultural legal studies, law & humanities
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