Many of the central issues in law––evidence, confession, punishment, justice, criminality––are also central preoccupations in literature. In this course we will read literary and legal texts that illuminate key concepts and dilemmas in the law. Topics will include the tension between strict liability and fair adjudication, the problem of bias within legal processes, and the place of rhetoric and storytelling in law. We will explore issues from legal history (segregation, obscenity, marriage) as well as select issues in contemporary law (mass incarceration, torture, privacy).
Authors may include William Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, Susan Glaspell, Ann Petry, Mohamedou Slahi, and Ariel Dorfman. Students will be required to write two papers and two essay exams.