Legal Affect in Fulbeck’s A Direction or Preparative to the Study of the Law
Susan Bandes, Kathryn Temple, Jody Madeira, and Emily Kidd White, eds., The Elgar Research Handbook on Law and Emotion (2019)
18 Pages Posted: 5 Feb 2019
Date Written: January 22, 2019
The full title of William Fulbeck’s A Direction or Preparation to the Study of the Law gives a sense of the author’s general orientation: the volume is subtitled, "wherein is shewed what things ought to be observed and used of them that are addicted to the Study of the Law, and what, on the contrary part, ought to be eschewed and avoided," and this concern about cultivating the right kinds of attitudes, habits, and practices makes Fulbeck’s text an unusual contribution to the list of books for aspiring law students. First published in 1600, his text was also the first such book to focus primarily on legal methods, rather than on a particular field of law (such as property or criminal law). Because of this combination—the book’s attention to the student’s disposition, and the treatment of methods and techniques, rather than subject matter—Fulbeck’s text offers an invaluable perspective on the history of legal emotions.
This chapter proceeds by discussing the recent turn to affect and emotion in legal history, noting that much of this work focuses mainly on the explicit display of strongly marked negative emotions in the courtroom, particularly by way of witness testimony, in cases featuring disputes over matters such as homicide, divorce, breach of promise of marriage, and the like. Discussions of legal affect outside of the courtroom, and discussions of less intensely charged affective states, have been much rarer. The chapter seeks to explain this pattern, and to suggest ways of studying more muted affective states. In that spirit, the chapter offers an examination of Fulbeck's text both as a means of understanding the kind of legal affect that his book seeks to elicit from the reader, and as an example of how we might seek out other contexts for studying the history of legal affect.
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