Reading cases in interdisciplinary studies of law and literature

Durant, Alan ORCID: (2012) Reading cases in interdisciplinary studies of law and literature. In: Reading the legal case: cross-currents between law and the humanities. Wan, Marco, ed. Routledge, UK, pp. 11-28. ISBN 9780415673549. [Book Section]

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This chapter examines how far the general concept of a 'case' is coherent if extended, in the field of law and literature, beyond legal cases to literary topics and to literary works with legal themes. It is suggested that invoking an undifferentiated sense of 'case' in interdisciplinary enquiry opens up interpretive possibilities but risks major vagueness and ambiguity. The second half of the chapter focuses on 'case reports' in law: the genre of publication usually known as 'law reports'. I explore how far genre considerations associated with law reports constrain the interpretive approaches that can be usefully brought to bear on them (as Posner and others have argued is the case for statutes and constitutions). The chapter concludes that close links between the formal characteristics and purposes of law reports do place obstacles in the way of alternative readings, but that those obstacles need not undermine an extended sense of interpretation which can result in illuminating critical readings. Against Posner’s wider claim that reflexiveness in interpretation is generally unhelpful, I argue that even highly insightful literary readings of particular legal cases are less important than increased self-consciousness as regards how meanings are created by interpretive practices that differ in important ways between law and literature.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Areas: A. > School of Law > Law and Politics
Item ID: 8150
Notes on copyright: This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in Reading the legal case: cross-currents between law and the humanities on 30/04/2012, available online:
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Depositing User: Devika Mohan
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2011 07:09
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2021 19:40

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