Tangled Up in Law: The Jurisprudence of Bob Dylan

Michael L. Perlin

New York Law School

June 21, 2011

A a careful examination of Bob Dylan’s lyrics reveals a writer - a scholar - with a well-developed jurisprudence, ranging over a broad array of topics that relate to civil and criminal law, public and private law. His lyrics reflect the work of a thinker who takes “the law” seriously in multiple iterations - the role of lawyers, the role of judges, the disparities between the ways the law treats the rich and the poor, the inequality of the criminal and civil justice systems, the corruption of government, the police, and the judiciary, and more. In this paper, I seek to create a topography of Dylan-as-jurisprudential scholar, and will seek to do this by looking at selected Dylan songs in these discrete areas of law (and law-and-society):
• Civil rights
• Inequality of the criminal justice system
• Institutions
• Governmental/judicial corruption
• Equality and emancipation (political and economic)
• Poverty, the environment, and Inequality of the civil justice system, and
• The role of lawyers and the legal process.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 48

Keywords: law and literature, law and the humanities, criminal procedure, civil rights, the legal process, law and music

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Date posted: September 1, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Perlin, Michael L., Tangled Up in Law: The Jurisprudence of Bob Dylan (June 21, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1908898 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1908898

Contact Information

Michael L. Perlin (Contact Author)
New York Law School ( email )
185 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013
United States
212-431-2183 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://www.nyls.edu/bios/perlin.html
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