Making the Narrative Move: Observations Based Upon Reading Gerry Spence's Closing Argument in the Estate of Karen Silkwood v. Kerr-McGee, Inc.
New York University School of Law Clinical Law Review, Vol. 9, No. 1, p. 229, 2002
64 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2010
Date Written: 2002
Since I am talking about the genre conventions of narrative in closing arguments, it seems appropriate to begin with a story of my own, from when I was a student of creative writing in a graduate program in the Midwest many years ago. It is a little long-winded, and initially may seem peripheral to my analysis of Spence’s closing argument in Silkwood, so I hope you’ll bear with me. It was the early 1970s, and it was an exciting time for me. I did not take full advantage of it. I was young, the time seemed endless and, candidly, I was more interested then with being and becoming a writer as an identity rather than with the process of storytelling itself. Nevertheless, I loved the talk about storytelling and the stories themselves. For all of my naïve preconceptions about “art” it struck me that all of my successful and well-published teachers were shrewd craftspeople and self-promoters. There was the perpetual buzz about the marketplace, and a deep awareness of the reading preferences and predilections of the popular audience. Also, there was a shared awareness that stories are fragile shapes, that product of dangerous and precipitous high wire acts with language, and the stories that ultimately “sell” to a large audience are the product of an historical moment captured and packaged and re-transmitted in a way that attempts to draw readers into a shared space, in addition to being the exclusive.
Keywords: Narrative, Closing Argument, Creative Writing, Silkwood, Spence
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