Law and Humanities: A Field Without a Canon

21 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2019

See all articles by Sara Ramshaw

Sara Ramshaw

University of Victoria Faculty of Law

Date Written: November 5, 2019


This short Commentary imagines law and humanities not as a “canon” per se, but as a “field without a canon”; or a canon that resists canonization. Arts-based practices utilized in legal research and teaching expose the law and humanities “canon” to its dual (and somewhat contradictory) nature: ever straining towards a pre-established archive, it must also leap ahead fearlessly to properly defy disciplinary boundaries and move the field beyond siloed thinking, which is one of the preliminary aims of law and humanities scholarship and pedagogy. Arts-based practices consist not of a stable collection of set texts, but instead signify a process of experimentation that is ever in flux and alive to possibility. It is this process of discovering new arts-based practices that ensures law and humanities remains a vibrant, yet ever-changing, field for years to come. To that end, this Commentary surveys a sampling of outsider approaches to law and humanities scholarship and pedagogy, those more concerned with process than product, and which are coming from outside of or beyond the more traditionally conceived canon of law and humanities. These approaches fall into two broad categories: (1) arts-based scholarly legal practices; and (2) arts-based legal pedagogical practices. A uniting feature of both these approaches is that they are being undertaken and explored by Canadian legal scholars at a small law school on Vancouver Island on the West Coast of Canada, namely the University of Victoria Faculty of Law, where there is an impressive number of faculty members using arts-based practices in their research and teaching.

Suggested Citation

Ramshaw, Sara, Law and Humanities: A Field Without a Canon (November 5, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Sara Ramshaw (Contact Author)

University of Victoria Faculty of Law ( email )

PO Box 1700 STN CSC
Victoria, British Columbia V8W 2Y2

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