Narrative Topoi in the Digital Age

Journal of Legal Education, Vol. 68, No. 1 (Forthcoming)

Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 339-2018

13 Pages Posted: 5 Dec 2018 Last revised: 9 Jan 2019

See all articles by Zahr Said

Zahr Said

University of Washington - School of Law

Jessica M. Silbey

Northeastern University School of Law

Date Written: November 30, 2018

Abstract

Decades of thoughtful law and humanities scholarship have made the case for using humanistic texts and methods in the legal classroom. We build on that scholarship by identifying and describing three “narrative topoi” of the twenty-first century – podcasts, twitter and fake news. We use the term “topos” (from the Greek meaning “place”) and its plural, “topoi,” to mean “a literary commonplace” and “general setting for discussion” in the context of literary forms. Like an identifiable genre, narrative topoi are familiar story paths for audiences to travel. These narrative topoi live in contemporary popular culture and are products of digital technology’s capacity to share and shape communication in new ways that draw on older narrative conventions and forms. In a law school, drawing on new narrative topoi can reorient legal analysis through inquiry into twenty-first-century problems of language, narrative form, authenticity, and audiences. Legal educators may also highlight historical continuity between cultural and legal history and today’s forms and experiences, foregrounding issues central to legal skills, such as analogic reasoning, advocacy, counseling, and factual analysis. We address all of these points while exploring particular examples of these narrative topoi of our digital age.

Keywords: Law and humanities, law and literature, narrative, digital storytelling, legal education, legal pedagogy, criminal law, trial practice, social media and law, internet law, communications and media law, first amendment, advertising law, platforms

Suggested Citation

Said, Zahr and Silbey, Jessica M., Narrative Topoi in the Digital Age (November 30, 2018). Journal of Legal Education, Vol. 68, No. 1 (Forthcoming); Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 339-2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3293933

Zahr Said (Contact Author)

University of Washington - School of Law ( email )

William H. Gates Hall
Box 353020
Seattle, WA 98105-3020
United States

HOME PAGE: https://www.law.washington.edu/directory/profile.aspx?ID=602

Jessica M. Silbey

Northeastern University School of Law ( email )

416 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
45
Abstract Views
422
PlumX Metrics