Introduction to Littoral Readings: Representations of Land and Sea in Law, Literature, and Geography
Law & Literature, Vol. 27, Iss. 2, pp. 167-177, 2015
Posted: 9 Dec 2015
Date Written: December 7, 2015
This essay introduces a collection of new work that addresses law, literature, and geography. Organized around the relationship between land and sea, and in that sense building on the book of that title by Carl Schmitt, the collection recognizes the importance of geographic spatial phenomena in the contours of our literature, and as these play out in legal concepts. But we need to pay attention to the particular contours of this relation, the highly specific -- indeed incorrigibly plural -- forms and fantasies such a relationship takes in specific places and concerning specific jurisprudential issues. The first axis involves recognizing the role of the imaginary in transforming social and legal conditions, and in delineating legal responsibility. The second axis invites us to recognize how closely connected are legal structures and practices to the material experience of concrete spaces and environments. The fictional nature of literature, the non-fictional nature of geography, and the normative nature of law are constantly refracting each other. The way to understand law as culture is to see how its modes and strategies pass through literature and the imaginary on the one hand, by way of geography and the material on the other. In this essay and the collection that it introduces, the particularities of Australia -- its law, its geography, and its literature -- are used as case studies through which to develop this interdisciplinary methodology.
Keywords: law and literature, law and geography, Carl Schmitt, Mad Max, Australia
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