Literature and Law Seminar - 2211

Literature and Law Seminar
Class Term:
Fall Term 2020-2021
Catalog Number:
Class Number:
Class Schedule:


3 (2 Contact, 1 Field)
Graduation Requirements:
Upper-Level Writing
International / Comparative
"W" Writing
Enrollment Limit:
Seminar - 3rd Year Priority
Full Year Course:
Standard Courses


In this seminar, we will read and discuss stories about law. In such writers as Dostoevski, Melville, Glaspell, Wright, Lee, Shakespeare, Camus, Kafka, Porter, and Malamud, and in many popular culture and on-line media, LAW is represented, criticized, admired, and deconstructed, There is no better -- or more enjoyable! -- way to learn about the underlying premises and prejudices of legal systems than to participate in the real conflicts depicted in great stories, In this seminar, too, we will take a COMPARATIVE approach, because the writers chosen come from varied backgrounds, and their careful depictions of trials, investigations, and lawyers in action permit us to see how legal systems differ one from another.. Thus by perusing carefully Dostoevski , Kafka, and Camus, for example, we will see how criminal procedure on the continent of Europe differs markedly from common law approaches to guilt and innocence. The stuff of stories will be supplemented, where helpful, by readings in comparative law. Meanwhile these stories also permit us to raise questions of race, religion, and gender both within specific contexts (Shakespeare's Venice; Susan Glaspell's early 20th century America; Richard Wright's Chicago; Harper Lee's Jim Crow south) and comparatively (Bernard Malamud's recreation of the "blood libel trials"). Each student will submit a 20 page final term paper on a topic of their choosing as approved by the instructor.

Literature and Law Seminar