Curriculum Guide · Courses
Law and Literature Seminar
Professor Sara Schotland
J.D. Seminar 289 | 2 credit hours
This course will examine the treatment of legal themes in literary texts as part of a broader consideration of the relationship between literature and the law. We will compare and contrast how literature and the law address “questions that matter,” including individual morality, criminal law, and racial and gender equality. Students will consider how literary texts, like legal texts, have power to influence politics and society. Many readings will invite consideration of “the other” in literary texts and the treatment of minorities in the criminal justice system. Readings will include such classic texts as Antigone, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Lottery, but we will also include lesser-known and more recent works including some dystopian fiction. We will discuss the continuing relevance of these readings for vexed contemporary questions such as civil disobedience, the death penalty debate, and ethical choices faced by lawyers in litigation. We will also examine the treatment of trials in literary texts and view some high-quality film depictions of trial scenes in texts that we study. Students will be exposed to contemporary critical theory that has questioned and in some significantly modified traditional readings of the judgments of canonical texts.
Students may not receive credit for this seminar and Law and Humanities Seminar or Judicial Themes in Literature Seminar or Jurisprudence in Literature Seminar.