Mapping the Culture Wars: American Legal Cultural Studies Now
2010 Euresis: Romanian Journal of Literary and Cultural Studies 158-70 (2010)
18 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2009 Last revised: 21 Oct 2013
Date Written: November 18, 2010
This article draws connections between cultural studies and legal studies in U.S. legal practice and theory. In the United States, scholars in both cultural studies and legal studies have bridged the academic divide between the two disciplines. Legal scholars have broadened the scope of the work that counts as legal scholarship, pushing into the realm of the cultural. At the same time, culturalcritics have been drawn to the powerful, practical aspects of the law, to the promise the law makes to those wishing to engage in cultural work for social change. This intersection of social power and textual interpretation has always been central to the work of the United States Supreme Court, but recently the social - or cultural - aspect of legal work has come under fire by conservative judges and politicians. I suggest that the business of the law has always been culture. In order to prove this point, I first present some of the major voices of legal cultural studies, in order to attempt to define it as a field develop a framework for interpreting primary legal sources using cultural studies tools. I then use these tools to examine Lawrence v. Texas (2003) and the gay rights debate in the U.S. In the end I conclude that, despite Justice Scalia’s protests, law and culture are inextricable and that legal workers ignore culture to their detriment.
Keywords: legal cultural studies, law and culture, law and rhetoric, lawrence v. texas, law and literature, cultural studies, legal culture, ethics
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