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A History of Representations of Justice: Coincident Preoccupations of Law and Film

REPRESENTATIONS OF JUSTICE, Masson, O'Connors, eds., Peter Lang, 2007

26 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2007 Last revised: 5 Feb 2008

Jessica M. Silbey

Northeastern University School of Law

Abstract

The American trial and the art of cinema share certain epistemological tendencies. Both stake claims to an authoritative form of knowledge based on the indubitable quality of observable phenomena. Both are preoccupied (sometimes to the point of self-defeat) with sustaining the authority that underlies the knowledge produced by visual perception. The American trial and art of cinema also increasingly share cultural space. Although the trial film (otherwise known as the courtroom drama) is as old as the medium of film the recent spate of popular trial films, be they fictional such as Runaway Jury or documentary such as Capturing the Friedmans, suggests more then a trend; it suggests an inherent affinity between law and film. This article investigates this affinity, the cultural space it inhabits, and its destiny in terms of the evolving filmic culture and technologies of the twenty-first century.

Keywords: film, popular culture, evidence, law and technology, cinema, trial, litigation, cultural analysis of law, law and humanities, legal consciousness

JEL Classification: K10, K40, K41

Suggested Citation

Silbey, Jessica M., A History of Representations of Justice: Coincident Preoccupations of Law and Film. REPRESENTATIONS OF JUSTICE, Masson, O'Connors, eds., Peter Lang, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=959278

Jessica M. Silbey (Contact Author)

Northeastern University School of Law ( email )

416 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

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