Jurisprudence as Narrative: An Aesthetic Analysis of Modern Legal Theory

68 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2011 Last revised: 20 Jan 2011

See all articles by Robin L. West

Robin L. West

Georgetown University Law Center

Date Written: 1985


Recent legal scholarship has engaged in a growing dialogue tying literary criticism to jurisprudence. In this article, Professor Robin West adds her voice by advocating the reading of legal theory as a form of narrative. Drawing from Northrop Frye's "Anatomy of Criticism," Professor West first details four literary myths that combine contrasting world visions and narrative methods. She then applies Frye's categories to Anglo-American jurisprudential traditions and employs aesthetic principles to analyze influential legal theorists within these traditions. Finally, Professor West argues that recognizing the aesthetic dimension of legal debate frees us to realize our moral ideals.

Keywords: law and literature, aesthetic analysis, modern legal theory, myths, narrative, natural law, positivism, liberalism, statism

JEL Classification: K10, K19

Suggested Citation

West, Robin L., Jurisprudence as Narrative: An Aesthetic Analysis of Modern Legal Theory (1985). New York University Law Review, Vol. 60, 1985, Georgetown Public Law Research Paper No. 11-06, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1738492

Robin L. West (Contact Author)

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

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