Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Topics in Literature

ENGL 016.301
instructor(s):
W 2-5:00

Literary depictions of legal trials have occurred for several millennia. The first famous literary trial is Plato's account of that of Socrates. We find allusions to legal trials throughout the middle ages and the European Renaissance. The greatest number of literary works embodying legal trials date from the last two centuries and, in this course, we will discuss a wide variety of such literature, starting with Plato. Most literary trials deal with criminal justice, like Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson, Wright's Native Son, Faulkner's Intruder in the Dust, Camus's The Stranger, Wouk's The Caine Mutiny, Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, and Cozzens's The Just and the Unjust. Some deal with civil justice, like the play of Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, Inherit the Wind and Jonathan Harr's A Civil Action. Finally, some literary trials mock real justice, like Kafka's The Trial and Koestler's Darkness at Noon. This course is intended for students interested in law as well as in literature. (Distribution)