Law and Literature: Laws and Outlaws cancelled
This course will explore two intersecting questions about the relationship between law and literature: how these two discourses imagine language’s ability to order and describe the world and how they imagine the public’s relationship to the criminal. If the language of law seeks to order the world, literary language presses against the limits of that order, disrupting or upending it. Yet public fascination with laws and outlaws alike has long been fueled by literary narratives of crime, romanticizing both crime and the restoration of law. Drawing from a range of genres including the detective novel, gothic literature, trial documents, and judicial rulings, we will explore visions of criminality, legality, and the role of fiction in defining the limits of law and order. Texts may include Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, Melville’s “Billy Budd,” Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, Susan Glaspell, “Jury of Her Peers,” Rudolph Fisher’s The Conjure-Man Dies and selections from Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. Students will produce three short writing assignments and complete a final exam.