Law and Literature Seminar, Draft Syllabus

10 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2008

See all articles by Simon Stern

Simon Stern

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Date Written: November 8, 2008


This is a draft syllabus for an introductory seminar on law and literature. Courses in this area tend to focus primarily (often exclusively) on literary texts. My view is that literature can be more productively studied in a law school setting when literary and legal materials are placed next to each other. This approach does not treat law as the taken-for-granted backdrop that students already know, but instead makes explicit the similarities and differences between the two areas. Among other things, this approach may help to remind law students of what they know but easily forget - that what they have already learned about the law in their other classes is not inevitably alien to the qualities of literary writing and analysis. In that way, the course is not an effort to re-educate law students by illustrating passions and qualities that are presumptively absent from the rest of law school, but is instead designed to show how legal modes of thought are sometimes already present in literary texts and vice versa. To that end, my syllabus combines literary readings, literary criticism, judicial opinions, and legal scholarship.

These materials are a work in progress, and I welcome suggestions concerning new readings and new juxtapositions of literary and legal texts and scholarship.

Keywords: law and literature

JEL Classification: k19

Suggested Citation

Stern, Simon, Law and Literature Seminar, Draft Syllabus (November 8, 2008). Available at SSRN: or

Simon Stern (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5


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