Law's Guilt About Literature
Jane B. Baron
Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law
TOWARD A CRITIQUE OF GUILT: PERSPECTIVES FROM LAW AND THE HUMANITIES, A. Sarat, M. Anderson, eds., Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, Vol. 36, pp. 17-30, 2005
This essay addresses the theme of guilt in law and literature from the law side. It argues that the legal academy's flirtation with literature reflects two forms of guilty uneasiness. The first relates to the question whether lawyers should be reading literature at all. This is a methodological anxiety. It presumes a distinctly legal method of analyzing legal issues, in which literature does not have a truly legitimate role. The second anxiety is substantive. It presumes law has an identifiable content, one that excludes much that appears in literature. Both presumptions are, I argue, questionable and make sense only if law is viewed as primarily doctrinal. Fundamentally, these varieties of uneasiness have their roots in the still unresolved conceptual challenge of figuring precisely what is "interdisciplinary" about the law and literature enterprise. Developing an honest form of "interdisciplinarity" will be difficult if not impossible because it requires an examination of usually unstated assumptions about the uniqueness of law.
Keywords: law and literature, interdisciplinarity, interdisciplinary
JEL Classification: K10, K30
Date posted: June 29, 2005