Wigmore, and the Law and Literature Movement

16 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2006

See all articles by Richard Weisberg

Richard Weisberg

Yeshiva University - Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

Date Written: December 14, 2006


John Wigmore's list of Legal Novels - really several lists compiled over the first 30 years or so of the 20th century - helped to generate the modern embodiment of the Law and Literature movement. The bibliographical element, although of course controversial as the Law and Literature canon developed through multiple debates about what should and should not be read and discussed, proved essential in locating a group of stories that lawyers were to live with throughout their professional careers. More than bibliographical, however, Wigmore's accompanying text stressed the democratization through great literature of a legal profession otherwise prone to misunderstanding the human realities with which it was theoretically always concerned. A defined group of fictional narratives - stories about law, lawyers, trials, statutes - was to re-awaken in the legal reader the attachment to democratic values conveyed by literature through its acute awareness of human needs and the failure of great institutions to serve them. This essay marks the 30th anniversary of its author's update of the Wigmore list. I trace the very active debates that have informed Law and Literature since that 1976 Northwestern Law Review article, and I celebrate the expansion to foreign shores of knowledge about Wigmore, as Law and Literature proponents both home and abroad have embraced Wigmore's democratic impulse for law.

Keywords: law and literature

Suggested Citation

Weisberg, Richard H., Wigmore, and the Law and Literature Movement (December 14, 2006). Cardozo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 177, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=951700 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.951700

Richard H. Weisberg (Contact Author)

Yeshiva University - Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law ( email )

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