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Taking her title from the British term for legal study, 'to read for the law', Christine L. Krueger asks how 'reading for the law' as literary history contributes to the progressive educational purposes of the Law and Literature movement. She argues that a multidisciplinary 'historical narrative jurisprudence' strengthens narrative legal theorists' claims for the transformative powers of stories by replacing an ahistorical opposition between literature and law with a history of their interdependence, and their embeddedness in print culture. Focusing on gender and feminist advocacy in the long nineteenth century, ""Reading for the Law"" demonstrates the relevance of literary history to feminist jurisprudence and suggests how literary history might contribute to other forms of 'outsider jurisprudence'. Krueger develops this argument across discussions of key jurisprudential concepts: precedent, agency, testimony, and motive. She draws from a wide range of literary, legal, and historical sources, from the early modern period through the Victorian age, as well as from contemporary literary, feminist, and legal theory. Topics considered include the legacy of witchcraft prosecutions, the evolution of the Reasonable Man standard of evidence in lunacy inquiries, the fate of female witnesses and pro se litigants, advocacy for female prisoners and infanticide defendants, and defense strategies for men accused of indecent assault and sodomy. The saliency of the nineteenth-century British literary culture stems in part from its place in a politico-legal tradition that produces the very conditions of narrative legal theorists' aspirations for meaningful social transformation in modern, multicultural democracies.
Christine L. Krueger is associate professor of English at Marquette University. She is the author of The Reader's Repentance: Women Preachers, Women Writers, and Nineteenth-Century Social Discourse and essays on Victorian fiction, gender, literature, and law.
Release date Australia
April 15th, 2010
Country of Publication
University of Virginia Press
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