June 23, 2017

Donald Trump and Vladimir Nabokov @ArsScripta @FrankPasquale @NPR

Over at NPR, Danielle Kurtzleben has an interesting discussion of Donald Trump as a "unreliable narrator," asking whether he resembles Nabokov as a writer and offering us an explanation of why his Twitter feed fascinates us so much (well, apart from the part that he sits in the Oval Office, at least for now). She quotes Wayne C. Booth, the creator of the term "unreliable narrator" as writing, "All of the great uses of unreliable narration depend for their success on far more subtle effects than merely flattering the reader or making him work. Whenever an author conveys to his reader an unspoken point, he creates a sense of collusion against all, those, whether in the story or out of it, who do not get that point."

What point or points is Trump making and to whom? Commentators have already spilled a lot of ink and spent a lot of tv time opining on this issue. Who is his audience? Is he persuading anyone? Or is that even his purpose? Is he constructing an alternate reality, or presenting the reality that at least a substantial minority of the US public agrees exists?

BTW, Wayne C. Booth is just about my favorite literary theorist. His books, The Rhetoric of Fiction and The Rhetoric of Irony, are just amazing.

Via @ArsScripta, @FrankPasquale.

From the Creators of "Sherlock": A New Version of "Dracula"

Sherlock creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat are turning to an interpretation of Bram Stoker's Dracula  as their next project. Given that Sherlock  was quite an interesting contemporarization (is that a word?) of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories,  I'm looking forward to seeing what the pair does with Dracula. 

A lawyer plays a prominent role in the story--solicitor Jonathan Harker is initially involved in a property transaction for the Count, and things only get murkier from there. Read the text here (courtesy of Project Gutenberg).

There have been a few adaptations fairly recently of Dracula for tv and film, including the 1979 John Badham directed version with Frank Langella, the 1992 Francis Ford Coppola film treatment with Gary Oldman, the 2013 10 episode tv adaptation with Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and 1973's Philip Saville-directed Count Dracula starring Louis Jourdan (be still, my heart--my favorite version). Check IMDB.com for more interpretations, adaptations, and continuations of the Dracula legend.

Selected Readings

Maria Aristodemou, Casting Light On Dracula: Studies in Law and Culture, 56 Modern Law Review 760 (September 1993).

A. McGillivray, He Would Have Made a Wonderful Solicitor: Law, Modernity, and Professionalism in Bram Stoker's Dracula, in Lawyers and Vampires 225 (David Sugarman and W. Wesley Pue, eds., Hart Publishing, 2004).

Falletti on Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) and the Sunset of Ancien Regime Legacy on Modern Legacy Culture

Elena Falletti, Carlo Catteneo University, has published Le Nozze di Figaro and the Sunset of Ancien Régime Legacy on Modern Legal Culture. Here is the abstract.
The purpose of this abstract is focused on the character of the Count of Almaviva as representative of the transition from the Ancien Régime to the Nouveau Régime. From the private law perspective, the Count exploits Figaro's promise of marriage to Marcellina in the event of the breach of a debt incurred some time before. Despite his conflict of interest because he is the master, the Count tries to mislead the judgement of his subordinate, unsuccessfully, due to the parent-child relationship between Marcellina and Figaro themselves. However, he does not give up and the final double exchange of role keeps him in a ridicolous situation to obtain forgiveness from his wife, the Countess, quite a proto-feminist in this opera. From the public law perspective, the crisis of the figure of the Count of Almaviva clearly represents the decline of aristocracy itself. None of his subjects are afraid of him. For instance, Cherubino escapes the mandatory enrollment in the Count's regiment by dressing up as a girl. This as not only of scenic value, but it could represent a crisis of social roles on the eve of the French Revolution. The Marriage of Figaro represents an indispensabile inspiration for historical and multidisciplinary reflections to analyze the paradigm shifts which occurred in the late XVII Century and the legacy they have left on today's legal culture.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

June 22, 2017

Klatt on Legal Argumentation and the Rule of Law @profklatt

Matthias Klatt, University of Graz, Faculty of Law, has published Legal Argumentation and the Rule of Law. Here is the abstract.
Both the concept of legal argumentation and the concept of the rule of law are contested and subject to irrationality objections. The present article refutes these objections by analysing the two concepts and focussing on their mutual relation. Based on a new account of the rule of dual-natured law, it elaborates in detail on how law’s dual nature play out in the various forms and problems of legal reasoning, allowing for a third theory of legal argumentation which integrates formal and material elements by means of optimization.
This essay has appeared as "The Rule of Dual-Natured Law, in Legal Argumentation and the Rule of Law 27-46 (Eveline Feteris, Harm Kloosterhuis, Jose Plug, and Carek Smith, eds.; The Hague: Eleven International Publishing, 2016). Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

Priel on Law and Digestion: A Brief History of an Unpalatable Idea

Dan Priel, Osgoode Hall, has published Law and Digestion: A Brief History of an Unpalatable Idea. Here is the abstract.
According to a familiar adage the legal realists equated law with what the judge had for breakfast. As this is sometimes used to ridicule the realists, prominent defenders of legal realism have countered that none of the realists ever entertained any such idea. In this short essay I show that this is inaccurate. References to this idea are found in the work of Karl Llewellyn and Jerome Frank, as well as in the works of their contemporaries, both friends and foes. But I also show the idea is older than the legal realists. One finds casual references to it in academic literature and newspapers from around that time, which suggest that the phrase reflected something of a received, if cynical, wisdom. Although none of the realists ever studied the question seriously, I further explain how it fit within their views on law, as well as how it might be tested today.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

June 21, 2017

Why "Better Call Saul" Is Better @Acculturated

Rachel DiCarlo Currie considers whether Better Call Saul is the "best--and most morally sound--show on television." Her verdict--guilty. More here from Acculturated. 

June 20, 2017

Forthcoming: The Oxford Handbook of English Law and Literature, 1500-1700 @ArsScripta @maksdelmar @OUPAcademic @ChrisVVarren

Now available on Google Books (before it's available for purchase): The Oxford Handbook of English Law and Literature, 1500-1700 (Lorna Hutson, ed., OUP, 2017).   Available July 22.

This volume contains amazing essays from leading scholars, including Christopher Warren, Simon Stern, Lorna Hutson, Peter Goodrich, and Kathy Eden. See below for the impressive list of contributors.

Here's the Google Books link to the contents.

A must buy (though it's pricey) if you are in this field. Maybe put it on the holiday want list?

List of contributors
Alastair Bellany, Rutgers University
Martin Butler, University of Leeds
Alan Cromartie, University of Reading
Frances E. Dolan, University of California, Davis
Martin Dzelzainis, University of Leicester
Kathy Eden, Columbia University
Peter Goodrich, Cardozo School of Law
Paul D. Halliday, University of Virginia
Edward Holberton, University of Bristol
Robert Allan Houston, University of St Andrews
Daniel Hulsebosch, NYU School of Law
Lorna Hutson, University of Oxford
David Ibbetson, University of Cambridge
Norma Landau, University of California, Davis
James McBain, University of Fribourg
Margaret McGlynn, Western University
Bernadette Meyler, Stanford University
Mary Nyquist, University of Toronto
Joshua Phillips, University of Memphis
Paul Raffield, University of Warwick
Joad Raymond, Queen Mary University of London
Jason P. Rosenblatt, Georgetown University
Carolyn Sale, University of Alberta
Ethan H. Shagan, University of California, Berkeley
Barbara J Shapiro, University of California, Berkeley
James Sharpe, University of York
Quentin Skinner, Queen Mary University of London
Nigel Smith, Princeton University
Virginia Strain, Loyola University of Chicago
Tim Stretton, Saint Mary's University
Henry S. Turner, Rutgers University
Elliott Visconsi, University of Notre Dame
Christopher N. Warren, Carnegie Mellon University
Ian Williams, University College London
Jessica Winston, Idaho State University
Andrew Zurcher, University of Cambridge

Miller on The Law of Time Travel @nyulaw @HUJILaw

Akiva A. Miller, New York University School of Law; Hebrew University of Jerusalem Faculty of Law, has published The Law of Time Travel. Here is the abstract.
Even as time machines remain as fictional as ever, time-travel stories hold important lessons for legal reasoning. Starting from the ancient paradigms of prophecy, the article explores the key features of the genre. Considering four key time-travel themes — the self-fulfilling prophecy, predictive policing, evil time-travelers, and getting one shot to undo a fateful moment — the article discusses how time-travel movies express subtle (and not-so-subtle) critiques of cornerstone legal concepts such as mens rea, culpability, obedience to law and individual freedom, regulation of information asymmetries, and negligence. Through this analysis, the article aims to introduce time-travel movies into the broader field of law and film studies.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

Something Legal This Way Comes: A Trial For "Macbeth"'s Weird Sisters

Tonight (June 19, 2017), the Shakespeare Theatre Company held its semi-annual mock trial. Tonight the problem was derived from Macbeth, petitioners were the Weird Sisters, and respondent was the Kingdom of Scotland. 

The government of Scotland charged the Weird Sisters with practicing witchcraft, and aiding and abetting Macbeth with the murder of Duncan. Here's a link to the scenario. 

Here's a link to petitioners' brief; here a link to respondents' brief. 

Presiding justice: Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Via @KevinDaleyDC, @ThisInHaste.

June 19, 2017

New from the University of Toronto Press: Indigenous Women's Writing and the Cultural Study of Law by Cheryl Suzack @utpress

New from University of Toronto Press: Cheryl Suzack, Indigenous Women's Writing and the Cultural Study of Law (2017). Here from the publisher's website is a description of book's contents from the publisher's website.
In Indigenous Women’s Writing and the Cultural Study of Law, Cheryl Suzack explores Indigenous women’s writing in the post-civil rights period through close-reading analysis of major texts by Leslie Marmon Silko, Beatrice Culleton Mosionier, Louise Erdrich, and Winona LaDuke. Working within a transnational framework that compares multiple tribal national contexts and U.S.-Canadian settler colonialism, Suzack sheds light on how these Indigenous writers use storytelling to engage in social justice activism by contesting discriminatory tribal membership codes, critiquing the dispossession of Indigenous women from their children, challenging dehumanizing blood quantum codes, and protesting colonial forms of land dispossession. Each chapter in this volume aligns a court case with a literary text to show how literature contributes to self-determination struggles. Situated at the intersections of critical race, Indigenous feminist, and social justice theories, Indigenous Women’s Writing and the Cultural Study of Law crafts an Indigenous-feminist literary model in order to demonstrate how Indigenous women respond to the narrow vision of law by recuperating other relationships–to themselves, the land, the community, and the settler-nation.

Indigenous Women's Writing and the Cultural Study of Law 

Matal v Tam and Miracle on 34th Street

From today's ruling in
If private speech could be passed off as government speech by simply affixing a government seal of approval, government could silence or muffle the expression of disfavored viewpoints. For this reason, we must exercise great caution before extending our government-speech precedents.
Matal v. Tam, No. 15–1293. Argued January 18, 2017—Decided June 19, 2017. 

The court's decision in Miracle on 34th Street:

Uh, since the United States government declares this man to be Santa Claus, this court will not dispute it. Case dismissed. 
Harper, J.  

June 18, 2017

A New Book On Joyce and Law From Adrian Hardiman (Head of Zeus Books) @JJ_Gazette @HoZ_Books

Just published by Head of Zeus Books: Adrian Hardiman, Joyce in Court (2016). Here from the publisher's website is a description of the book's contents.
Books about the work of James Joyce are an academic industry. Most of them are unreadable and esoteric. Adrian Hardiman's book is both highly readable and strikingly original. He spent years researching Joyce's obsession with the legal system, and the myriad references to notorious trials in Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. Joyce was fascinated by and felt passionately about miscarriages of justice, and his view of the law was coloured by the potential for grave injustice when policemen and judges are given too much power. Hardiman recreates the colourful, dangerous world of the Edwardian courtrooms of Dublin and London, where the death penalty loomed over many trials. He brings to life the eccentric barristers, corrupt police and omnipotent judges who made the law so entertaining and so horrifying. This is a remarkable evocation of a vanished world, though Joyce's scepticism about the way evidence is used in criminal trials is still highly relevant.
The late Adrian Hardiman was a judge of the Irish Supreme Court. He died in 2016.

June 17, 2017

James Joyce and Law: Some Readings

It's Bloomsday! Here are some references on the topic of James Joyce and the law.

On James Joyce and censorship:

A. Craig, The Banned Books of England and Other Countries: A Study of the Conception of Literary Obscenity (Allen & Unwin, 1962).

Paul Vanderham: James Joyce and Censorship: The Trials of Ulysses (Macmillan Press, 1998).

On copyright:

Robert Spoo, Copyright Protectionism and Its Discontents: The Case of James Joyce's "Ulysses" in America, 108 Yale L.J. 633-667 (1998).

Robert Spoo, Without Copyrights: Piracy, Publishing, and the Public Domain (Oxford, 2013) (Modernist Literature and Culture). Chapters 4-6.

On James Joyce and law generally:

Adrian Hardiman, Joyce in Court (Head of Zeus, 2016).

Joseph Valente, James Joyce and the Problem of Justice: Negotiating Sexual and Colonial Difference (Cambridge University Press, 1995).

Tips of the beret to @JJ_Gazette.

June 15, 2017

Curtis on Due Process Demands as Propaganda: The Rhetoric of Title IX Opposition

Annaleigh E. Curtis, Independent, is publishing Due Process Demands As Propaganda: The Rhetoric of Title IX Opposition in volume 29 of the Yale Journal of the Law and the Humanities (2017). Here is the abstract.
This Article focuses on a particular kind of objection to Title IX, which I call due process demands. They may take many forms, but the central idea is that students who are accused of misconduct, like sexual harassment or assault, are denied due process in campus adjudications—that such adjudications are unfair to the accused. This has become a criticism of Title IX, rather than universities themselves, largely because of the Dear Colleague Letter (DCL), which clarified some of the ways that universities must conduct these adjudications. This, in turn, is taken to be either a devastating objection to compliance with the DCL and/or an imperative on universities to provide more process for the accused, whether within the bounds of the DCL or not. I argue that such demands function as political rhetoric, specifically as a sort of propaganda, drawing on a recent taxonomy of propaganda. First, I explain what due process demands are, focusing particular attention on the discourse surrounding Title IX at Harvard Law School. Second, I explain what propaganda is and is not, drawing on recent philosophical work on propaganda and philosophy of language generally. Third, I apply the analysis to the case of due process demands, showing how and why such demands function as propaganda. Finally, I draw conclusions about what this means for the debate over Title IX itself.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

Allen on Blackstone, Expositor and Censor of Law Both Made and Found

Jessie Allen, University of Pittsburgh School of Law, is publishing Blackstone, Expositor and Censor of Law Both Made and Found in Blackstone and His Critics (Wilfrid Prest and Anthony Page, eds., Hart Publishing, forthcoming). Here is the abstract.
Jeremy Bentham famously insisted on the separation of law as it is and law as it should be, and criticized his contemporary William Blackstone for mixing up the two. According to Bentham, Blackstone costumes judicial invention as discovery, obscuring the way judges make new law while pretending to uncover preexisting legal meaning. Bentham’s critique of judicial phoniness persists to this day in claims that judges are “politicians in robes” who pick the outcome they desire and rationalize it with doctrinal sophistry. Such skeptical attacks are usually met with attempts to defend doctrinal interpretation as a partial or occasional limit on judicial policy making. But this essay takes a different approach. I view the judicial performance of legal interpretation described in Blackstone’s Commentaries as a kind of ritual in which Blackstone participates. This response might seem to prove Bentham’s point. In the mainstream modern view, ritual is quintessentially false and irrational - an empty ceremony that distracts us from reality. But there is another way to think of ritual. On this account, ritual’s fictional performance is neither deceptive nor delusional. Rather, ritual practitioners act as if their ritual world is real, while recognizing the gap between ritual order and a chaotic, messy world. In my reading, Blackstone’s Commentaries describes an ambiguous ritual of judicial discovery, in which judges act as if they are finding objectively determined outcomes, while they - and we - understand and acknowledge that subjective creativity is involved in producing those results. Ritual is often associated with maintaining traditional social structures, and in the U S today Blackstone continues to be claimed by conservative “originalists” who treat the Commentaries as an authoritative guide to American law at the time of the country’s founding. But, while ritual cannot finally resolve real social conflicts, it need not always preserve a static social reality. The essay closes with an analysis of the judicial technique in Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, a recent U.S. federal appeals court decision that deployed the ritual of judicial discovery to expand protection for the rights of LGBT Americans.

Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

Calling Alexander Graham Bell

Ayun Halliday investigates the uses of inventor Alexander Graham Bell as representative of all kinds of TV spokesperson, from the obvious (electronic equipment) to the somewhat less so (chewing gum--well, maybe it's linked to speech, which goes into the phone?) to the obscure (Legos--Bell as a child making a phone out of the product--I'm really in the weeds now). Along the way, she points out that intellectual property law can be a concern if one uses images of dead figures in one's advertising. Public figures may also have post-mortem rights of publicity, depending on the jurisdiction.

For Open Culture. 

June 13, 2017

Spaak on Legal Positivism, Conventionalism, and the Normativity of Law @Stockholm_Uni

Torben Spaak, Stockholm University, has published Legal Positivism, Conventionalism, and the Normativity of Law. Here is the abstract.
The aim of this article is to investigate and see whether we can account for the normativity of law within the framework of legal positivism and whether the idea of a social convention could be of help in this endeavor. As I shall explain, I do not believe that it is possible to offer such an account; and to illustrate the difficulties involved in trying to do so, I am going to consider the accounts of the normativity of law proposed by three prominent jurisprudents, who all work in the tradition of legal positivism, namely, Hans Kelsen, Gerald Postema, and Andrei Marmor. I argue (A) that we need to distinguish carefully between (a) the problem of accounting for the normativity of law, conceived as a necessary property of law, and (b) the problem of accounting for the use of normative legal language on the part of judges, attorneys, legal scholars, and others; (B) that the contemporary debate about the normativity of law, which mainly concerns (a), is in substance, if not in form, more or less identical to the old debate between legal positivists and non-positivists; (C) that one simply cannot account for the normativity of law, conceived along the lines of (a), within the framework of legal positivism, whether or not one invokes the idea of a social convention, and that the problem of the normativity of law thus conceived and considered within the framework of legal positivism, is not an open, and therefore not a very interesting, legal-philosophical question; (D) that the important question for a legal positivist is whether a given legal order (or legal system) is in fact normative, in roughly the sense of justified (or authoritative) normativity (a notion to be explained below), and that to determine whether this is so, one needs to consider the content and the administration of this legal order; and (E) that the idea of conditional normativity, or normativity from a point of view, although of considerable interest when discussing (b), is of little or no interest to those who are concerned with (a). As regards claim (C), I argue, more specifically, (C1) that Kelsen’s theory of the basic norm offers no solution to (a), because it offers nothing more than normativity from a point of view, and that it is better understood as aiming to solve (b), (C2) that Gerald Postema’s coordination convention account, although in many ways a very fine account, cannot (as Postema is well aware of) generate obligations for the citizens, as distinguished from the legal officials, and (C3) that Andrei Marmor’s constitutive convention account, which capitalizes on the idea of conditional normativity, does not and cannot take things further than Kelsen’s basic-norm account does. On route to establishing claims (A)-(E), I also argue (i) that when discussing (α), we should focus on the level of legal orders (legal systems), not on the level of individual legal norms, (ii) that the claim that law is necessarily normative is to be understood as the conceptual claim that necessarily, if x is a legal norm, x is normative, not as the essentialist claim that if x is a legal norm, x is necessarily normative, and (iii) that we should think of the concept of a legal ‘ought’ as having the function of connecting grounds (or conditions) and consequences in legal norms and of the import of the concept of ought (or, roughly, the meaning of the word ‘ought’) as being the same in different fields. Furthermore, I argue (iv) that we should distinguish between different grades (or degrees) of normativity; (v) that the most interesting grade of normativity when discussing (α) is what Joseph Raz has called justified normativity; and (vi) that we may think of moral philosopher David Copp’s notion of authoritative normativity as an illuminating specification of the somewhat loose idea of justified normativity.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

June 12, 2017

First Thing We Do, Let's Kill All the Deans @chronicle

Ms. Mentor, channelled through Emily Toth, Professor of English and Women's Studies at LSU, offers her annual-ish list of academic list of novels for summer reading here for the Chronicle of Higher Education. This year, the theme is nasty deans. I wouldn't have thought there were all that many to choose from. I am so naive.

  • Alfred Alcorn, Murder in the Museum of Man (1997).
  • Saul Bellow, The Dean’s December (1982).
  • Willa Cather, The Professor’s House (1925).
  • David Fleming, It’s All Academic (2000).
  • John Gardner, Mickelsson’s Ghosts (1982).
  • Jean Hanff Korelitz, The Devil and Webster (2017).
  • Bernard Malamud, A New Life (1961).
  • Bourne Morris, The Red Queen’s Run (2014).
  • Cathy Perkins, The Professor (2012).
  • Joanne Rendell, The Professors’ Wives’ Club (2008).

  • Kim A. Smith, The Cora Crane School of Journalism: a Novel of Academic Shenanigans (2016). 

  • To the list I suggest looking at film and tv deans: check out the Dean Bitterman trope in TV Tropes.  See also the Perry Mason episode The Case of the Decadent Dean (s7, ep. 5).

    From my own wonderful dean, Tom Galligan, (definitely not a candidate for literary extermination and who provided the title for this post: "Out, out, damned deans!"

    Call for Papers: Argumentation Conference, Brno, The Czech Republic @ThomGiddens @MasarykUni

    Here is a link to a CFP  for the International Conference on Alternative Methods of Argumentation in Law, Faculty of Law, Masaryk University, October 27, 2017. The submission deadline is July 31st, 2017.

    The Faculty of Law has held previous conferences in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015.

    Via @ThomGiddens

    June 10, 2017

    TV Watching and Trump @ConversationUK

    James Shanahan, Dean of the Media School, Indiana University, and Michael Morgan, Professor Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, identify a correlation between higher television watching and support for the current President. Read more here at The Conversation. 

    June 9, 2017

    Pop Culture Profs and the Profs Who Love Them @chronicle

    Images of pop culture professors: do real life academics see themselves on the screen? On tv? In novels? More here from Suhuana Hussain in The Chronicle of Higher Education. 

    A Blog For Crime Fiction Mavens @CriFiLover

    If you like to read crime fiction, check out the blog Crime Fiction Lover, written and edited by Catherine Turnbull, Mike Parker, MarinaSofia, Garrick Webster, Purity Brown, Sandra Mangan, Jeremy Megraw, Louis Bravos, Vicki Weisfeld, Mal McEwan, and Philip Rafferty, They cover books (classic and newly published), news, events, and other material of interest to lovers of the genre. Follow the blog on Twitter at @CriFiLover.

    Poscher on the Hermeneutics of Law @CambridgeUP

    Ralf Poscher, Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg, is publishing The Hermeneutics of Law: An Analytical Model for a Complex General Account in The Cambridge Companion to Hermeutics (Michael Forster and Kristin Gjesdal, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2017). Here is the abstract.
    In contrast to monistic conceptions of hermeneutics as interpretation, legal hermeneutics has always been acutely aware of the complexity of our hermeneutic practices. The legal tradition thus speaks in favor a complex conception of hermeneutics that identifies the different activities involved. The essay tries to show that such diverse activities as interpretation, rule-following, construction, association, the exercise of discretion, and judgments on significance can all be involved in the application of the law. All of these distinct practices involve distinct theoretical issues, most of which can be linked to particular debates in analytic philosophy. To prove the point that this complex conception of hermeneutics is not specific to the law, but applies to hermeneutics in general, some parallels in the field of the hermeneutics of art are drawn. In theoretically following up on the distinctions inherent in legal doctrine and methods, hermeneutics in general can live up to Gadamer’s observation that there is something to be learned from looking at the law.
    Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

    Finding Meaning In "The Sopranos"

    Rachel DiCarlo Currie interprets the David Chase series "The Sopranos," and offers us an explanation for the mysterious ending. More here at Acculurated. 

    More about The Sopranos in the materials below.

    G. Gabbard, The Psychology of the Sopranos: Love, Death, Desire, and Betrayal in America's Favorite Gangster Family (Basic Books, 2008).

    Martha P. Nochimson, "Whaddya Lookin' At?" Re-Reading the Gangster Genre Through "The Sopranos," 56 Film Quarterly 2-13 (Winter 2002).

    Reading the Sopranos (David Lavery ed., I. B. Taurus, 2006).

    The Sopranos and Philosophy: I Kill, Therefore I Am (Richard Greene and Peter Vernezze eds., Open Court, 2004).

    Maurice Yacowar, The Sopranos on the Couch (Continuum, 2003).

    June 8, 2017

    Stern on Samuel Richardson and the Law @ArsScripta

    Simon Stern, University of Toronto Faculty of Law, has published Samuel Richardson and the Law in Samuel Richardson in Context 231-38 (Peter Sabor and Betty A. Schellenberg, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2017). Here is the abstract.
    This chapter discusses the forensic mentality that pervades Samuel Richardson's novels, his correspondence, and his writings about fiction. Scholars have explored numerous doctrinal contexts in which Richardson's novels address legal issues including marriage, rape, inheritance, citizenship, copyright, and liability for accidents. This chapter extends that discussion by asking how his fiction, and his writings on fiction, engage with the logic of the case, understood both as an example that may set a precedent, and a specific instance that illustrates a general principle. Although Richardson held out both his characters and his novels as exemplifying general laws, when pressed about their exemplary status he repeatedly defended them by stressing their unique individuality, effectively undercutting his claims about their precedential significance. We see a similar pattern when he complained about the Dublin booksellers who reprinted his last novel, Sir Charles Grandison (1753), without authorization. Treating their conduct as an affront to "the Cause of Literature, in general," Richardson held out his own very unusual case (as someone who was both a successful novelist and a printer of his own novels) as exemplifying the harms of literary piracy.

    Download the essay from SSRN at the link. 

    Collins on Narrative and Lyrical Elements in International Investment Agreements @CityLawSchool

    David A. Collins, The City Law School, City, University of London, has published Narrative and Lyrical Elements in International Investment Agreements: Towards an Imagination-Inspired Understanding of International Legal Obligations. Here is the abstract.
    Drawing upon the field of Law and Literature, this article applies literary analysis to the unconventional subject of International Investment Agreements (IIAs), treating these sources of international law as if they were works of fiction with a view to uncovering insights into how they might be received by their readers. It proposes that IIAs may be imaginatively appreciated both for their narrative features (their capacity to tell stories in the tradition of novels or plays) as well as their lyrical ones (their poetic or figurative elements). Rather than leading to any concrete conclusions concerning how IIAs may have been misunderstood as a consequence of readers’ neglect of these instruments’ literariness or how they should thereby be construed going forward, the article calls upon readers of IIAs to be more aware of the feelings which these instruments might inspire, much as we would expect from novels or poems. This could in turn enhance our understanding of these treaties are be viewed by the legal practitioners who draft and interpret them as well as the people whose rights they affect.
    Download the article from SSRN at the link.

    June 7, 2017

    A New Book on Heritage, Culture, and Rights, Edited by Andrea Durbach and Lucas Lixinski (Hart Publishing) @hartpublishing @IntHeritageLaw @UNSWLaw

    New from Hart Publishing:

    Heritage, Culture and Rights: Challenging Legal Discourses (Andrea Durbach and Lucas Lixinski, eds., 2017). Here is a description from the publisher's website of the book's contents.
    Cultural heritage law and its response to human rights principles and practice has gained renewed prominence on the international agenda. The recent conflicts in Syria and Mali, China’s use of shipwreck sites and underwater cultural heritage to make territorial claims, and the cultural identities of nations post-conflict highlight this field as an emerging global focus. In addition, it has become a forum for the configuration and contestation of cultural heritage, rights and the broader politics of international law.
    The manifestation of tensions between heritage and human rights are explored in this volume, in particular in relation to heritage and rights in collaboration and in conflict, and heritage as a tool for rights advocacy. This volume also explores these issues from a distinctively legal standpoint, considering the extent to which the legal tools of international human rights law facilitate or hinder heritage protection. Covering a range of issues across Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and Australia, this volume will be of interest to people working in human rights, heritage studies, cultural heritage management and identity politics around the world.

    Media of Heritage, Culture and Rights 

    New Issue of Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics Devoted To Discussion of Images of Sexual Violence In Comics and Graphic Novels @JGNandComics

    In the new issue of Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics: 

    Mihaela Precup and Rebecca Scherr, Editorial, Sexual violence in comics

    Erin Barry, Eight-page eroticism: sexual violence and the construction of normative masculinity in Tijuana Bibles

    Lorna Piatti-Farnell, 'For God’s sake, cover yourself’: sexual violence, disrupted histories, and the gendered politics of patriotism in Watchmen 

    Michael J. Prince, The magic of patriarchal oppression in Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s From Hell

    Brenna Clarke Gray and David N. Wright, Decentering the sexual aggressor: sexual violence, trigger warnings and Bitch Planet 

    Tiffany Hong, ‘Of course we record it’: legacy, textual violence, and fridging in Ales Kot’s Zero

    Elizabeth Lowry, Book review: Matt Upson, C. Michael Hall, and Kevin Cannon, Information now: A Graphic Guide to student research 

    Cormac McGarry, Book review, Bart Beaty and Benjamin Woo, The greatest comic book of all time: symbolic capital and the field of American comic books

    Valentino L. Zullo, Book review, Barbara Brownie and Danny Graydon, The superhero costume: identity and disguise in fact and fiction

    Eszter Szép, Book review, Daniel Worden, Jackson, A review of the comics of Joe Sacco. Journalism in a visual world

    (A subscription may be required).

    Jewel on Neurorhetoric, Race, and the Law @ljewel

    Lucy A. Jewel, University of Tennessee College of Law, is publishing Neurorhetoric, Race, and the Law: Toxic Neural Pathways and Healing Alternatives in volume 76 of the Maryland Law Review (2017). Here is the abstract.
    Neurorhetoric is the study of how rhetoric shapes the human brain. At the forefront of science and communication studies, neurorhetoric challenges many preconceptions about how humans respond to persuasive stimuli. Neurorhetoric can be applied to a multiplicity of relevant legal issues, including the topic of this Maryland Law Review Symposium Issue: race and advocacy. After detailing the neuroscientific and cognitive theories that underlie neurorhetoric, this Essay theorizes ways in which neurorhetoric intersects with the law, advocacy, and race. This Essay explores how toxic racial stereotypes and categories become embedded in the human brain and what can be done about it.
    Download the article from SSRN at the link.

    June 6, 2017

    McCormack on How and When Canadian Courts Cite the Major Philosophers @QueensULibrary

    Nancy McCormack, Queen's University Faculty of Law, has published When Canadian Courts Cite the Major Philosophers: Who Cites Whom in Canadian Caselaw. Here is the abstract.
    This paper discusses the results of a search of Canadian case law from 1860 to 2016 to determine which major philosophers (born before 1900) were cited most and least often (or never), as well as which judges and courts cited them. The survey indicates that judges from every level of the Canadian courts have, over the years, made explicit references to major philosophic figures in their decisions. Many of the citations deal with eminently practical matters, but the courts have also thought it beneficial to call upon the philosophers for a variety of more strictly “philosophic” notions, for example, Thomas Aquinas on the doctrine of free will, and Bertrand Russell on logical constructions. Who cites whom and in what context and jurisdiction is set out in detail.
    Download the article from SSRN at the link.

    Kevin Curran's New Book on Shakespeare and Law Published by Northwestern University Press @kevdcurran

    New from Northwestern University Press: Kevin Curran, University of Lausanne, has published Shakespeare's Legal Ecologies: Law and Distributed Selfhood (2017) (Rethinking the Early Modern Series). Here from the publisher's website is a description of the book's contents.
    Shakespeare’s Legal Ecologies offers the first sustained examination of the relationship between law and selfhood in Shakespeare’s work. Taking five plays and the sonnets as case studies, Kevin Curran argues that law provided Shakespeare with the conceptual resources to imagine selfhood in social and distributed terms, as a product of interpersonal exchange or as a gathering of various material forces. In the course of these discussions, Curran reveals Shakespeare’s distinctly communitarian vision of personal and political experience, the way he regarded living, thinking, and acting in the world as materially and socially embedded practices. At the center of the book is Shakespeare’s fascination with questions that are fundamental to both law and philosophy: What are the sources of agency? What counts as a person? For whom am I responsible, and how far does that responsibility extend? What is truly mine? Curran guides readers through Shakespeare’s responses to these questions, paying careful attention to both historical and intellectual contexts. The result is a book that advances a new theory of Shakespeare’s imaginative relationship to law and an original account of law’s role in the ethical work of his plays and sonnets. Readers interested in Shakespeare, theater and philosophy, law, and the history of ideas will find Shakespeare’s Legal Ecologies to be an essential resource.

    Order the paperback edition with the code NUP2017 for a 25 percent discount per Dr. Curran (see his tweet) @kevdcurran.  

    June 5, 2017

    Call For Proposals: Duke Journal of Constitutional Law & Public Policy

    From the mailbox:

    Duke Journal of Constitutional Law & Public Policy
    DJCLPP Annual Spring Symposium: Call for Proposals

    The Duke Journal of Constitutional Law and Public Policy (DJCLPP) seeks submissions for a Symposium on amending the Constitution to be held at Duke University School of Law on February 2, 2018.

    This year, our Symposium will be organized with the assistance of Professor Stephen Sachs.


    The Founders recognized that the Constitution was an imperfect document. Over the past 230 years, however, Article V’s amendment procedure has been used only rarely. The topic for the 2018 Spring Symposium will be An Even More Perfect Union: Proposed Amendments to the Constitution. Each article will propose a different amendment to the Constitution. Articles will offer enactment-ready language for these amendments, defend the need for their adoption, explain the choices made in their drafting, and describe possible routes to enactment.

    Invited participants will receive assistance with travel and lodging expenses. Practitioners and others working in the field are welcome to attend.

    How to Submit Your Proposal

    Proposals should be sent with the subject line “Symposium Proposal” to Proposals should be sent with the subject line “Symposium Proposal” to clj-submissions@law.duke.edu by July 14, 2017. Please attach a copy of your CV to your proposal. Inquiries via this email address should be directed to DJCLPP ’s Special Projects Editor, Wendy Becker.

    Proposals should include the following:
    ·       A proposed title for your article
    ·       Draft text for your proposed amendment
    ·       An abstract or brief description (no more than 500 words) explaining and defending your proposal

    Important Dates
    ·        July 14, 2017: Deadline to submit proposals
    ·        July 28, 2017: Proposals selected on or before this date
    ·        August 4, 2017: Deadline for commitments received from authors
    ·        January 5, 2018: Draft articles due
    ·        February 2, 2018: Symposium held at Duke University School of Law
    ·        Spring 2018: DJCLPP’s Volume 13 published 

    For questions, comments, or information about the Journal, please feel free to email the above address.
    Thank you, and we look forward to your proposal.
    Wendy Becker
    Special Projects Editor
    Duke Journal of Constitutional Law and Public Policy, Volume 13

    June 4, 2017

    Like Mystery Books? Maybe That Interest Could Lead To a Career @DSimpsonAuthor

    Via writer Duncan Simpson @DSimpsonAuthor, a reference book after my own heart: Blythe Camenson’s Careers for Mystery Buffs & Other Snoops and Sleuths (McGraw-Hill, 1997), mentioned at  The Booklist Reader.  Among the careers mentioned: mystery writer (by lawyer John Grisham). The book is o.p., but available from used book dealers (e.g. abebooks, alibris). 

    June 3, 2017

    Wonder Woman and Lawyers

    Christie Marston writes  (Hollywood Reporter) about her grandmother, lawyer Elizabeth Holloway Marston, who was the inspiration for Wonder Woman, the creation of  her husband, William  Moulton Marston.

    Mr. Marston was also an attorney, as well as quite an adventurous soul. Read more about him, his wife Elizabeth, his mistress, and all the feminist and sexual symbols in his work (I said he was adventurous) in Jill Lepore's book The Secret History of Wonder Woman (Random House, 2014). More here from NPR.

    The Links Between Images and Social Justice

    Seph Rodney interviews Sarah Lewis on the links between images and social justice, and how Professor Lewis's Harvard course on "Vision and Justice" translated into a similar but shorter course at the Brooklyn Public Library.

    More here at the Chronicle of Higher Education.

    PhD Studentship Available At VR Lab, Bristol

    From the mailbox, via Dr. Thom Giddens @ThomGiddens

    Collaborative PhD Studentship - Authoring Augmented Public Space: Design for Experiential Placemaking

    Applications are open for a three-year full-time Doctoral studentship, fully funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council/National Productivity Investment Fund (AHRC/NPIF), to undertake practice-led research into creative forms that consider new forms of engagement with public space in light of new immersive experiences.

    Technologies for the Creative Industries, specifically technologies of immersion like augmented and virtual reality, will reshape the ways in which we experience increasingly hybrid physical and digital spaces. Fundamental to these technologies are well-designed immersive and interactive experiences that put the human at the centre of the experience. This practice-based studentship, working alongside the research team in Bristol’s newly launched VR Lab, will explore a set of speculative experience design experiments that consider how public spaces will become more playful and engaging through the use of technologies of immersion.

    Combining theories of design, human-computer interaction, emerging & transformative digital technologies and immersion and presence, with speculative prompts and design provocations from industry collaborator and mentor Arup Global Research, you'll explore and develop near future experiences of the Augmented City. Design research topics will investigate creative approaches to storytelling and performance, considering playful and playable experiences with enchanted public spaces that might exist at the intersection of the physical and digital world.

       Possible research areas include:  
    • Immersive Technologies, including Augmented and Virtual Reality
    • Speculative Futures and Design Fiction
    • Human-Computer Interaction
    • Experience Design for Immersive Experiences
    • Architecture and Urban Design
    Joining an interdisciplinary Design Futures Lab cohort of 12 collaborative PhD students, you will be part of an innovative and cutting-edge group of researchers dedicated to reshaping industrial technologies and processes through embedded practice-based research.

    The DCRC has a strong track record of successful PhD completions and offers access to an exciting creative and intellectual community, and students researching emerging creative practices. The Centre, based in the Pervasive Media Studio is home to the i-Docs research group and symposium and the Ambient Literature project. We expect research students to take a full and active role in the Research Centre and to take part in regular workshops, conferences and seminars. The studentship commences October 2017.

    Applicants will be expected to attend an interview in Bristol on either July 10 or 11 and demonstrate:
    • imaginative and viable preliminary ideas for research into this subject area
    • an appreciation of the nature of PhD study and of both independent and collaborative research
    • evidence that you have, or can develop, the skills required to start the proposed research
    For an informal discussion about the studentship contact jennifer.stein@uwe.ac.uk

    Deadline for applications is 17:00 on Monday June 19.

    Further information regarding eligibility and the application process visit: http://3d3research.co.uk/information/npif-studentships-general-information-live

    The NPIF studentships comprise tuition fees at Home/EU rates and, for UK award holders, a maintenance award (£14,553 per year) tenable for a minimum period of 3 academic years. EU students are welcome to apply, but are eligible for tuition fees only. We also welcome applications for part-time studentships; these comprise tuition fees and a pro-rata maintenance award for a 5-year period.

    May 30, 2017

    Soldiers On War and Death

    From The New York Times, published May 26, 2017.

    Bruce Headlam, Colin Archdeacon, and Mike Shum, Theater of War: A Warrior's Last Words. Veterans read the words of Ajax and his wife Tecmessa, and comment on the pain of war. 

    ICYMI: A New Book From Alison Young: Street Art World (Reaktion Books, 2016) @scotinoz

    ICYMI: Alison Young has published Street Art World (Reaktion Books, dist. University of Chicago Press, 2016). Here from the publisher/distributor's website is a description of the book's contents.
    Street art and graffiti are a familiar sight in all our cities. Giant murals commemorate historical events or proclaim the culture of a neighborhood, while tagged walls can function simultaneously as a claim to territory and a backdrop for an urban fashion shoot. Street Art World examines these divergent forms and functions of street art. This strikingly illustrated book explores every aspect of street art, from those who spray it into being to those who revel in it on Instagram, from its place under highway overpasses to one on the austere walls of high art museums. What exactly is street art? Is it the same as graffiti, or do they have different histories, meanings, and practitioners? Who makes it? Who buys it? Can it be exhibited at all, or does it always have to appear unsanctioned? Talking with artists, collectors, sellers, and buyers, author Alison Young reveals an energetic world of self-made artists who are simultaneously passionate about an authentic form of expression and ambivalent about the prospects of selling it to make a living—even a fabulously good one. Drawing on over twenty years of research, she juxtaposes the rise and fall of art markets against the vibrancy of the street and urban life, providing a rich history and new ways of contextualizing the words and images—some breathtakingly beautiful—that seem to appear overnight in cities around the world. 

    Call For Papers: Cities as Ill Bodies in Films and Series

    Call For Papers: Cities as Ill Bodies in Films and Series

    From Anne Wagner
    Associate Professor 
    EIC of the International Journal for the Semiotics of Law
    Co-Editor of the Series “Law, Language and Communication”

    City is a living organism. It is built around a centre – the heart - that provides wealth, prosperity and work to citizens (i.e. the business centre). Transportation arteries are constructed to cut traffic congestion and to facilitate the link between dormitory rings and the business centre. City is like a living monster. It needs expansion, exposure, recognition, security and regeneration. City suffers. Congestion is far too important and the lack of security is the core issue for the Town Hall and its inhabitants. The most urgent matter concerns the close link between the regeneration of cities and their environment in order to maintain peace, comfort, discretion and visibility for all. City is an ill body with signs and symptoms that need to be treated and cured to restore its utility value to its inhabitants. The overall aim of a City is to guarantee simultaneously and paradoxically a high level of individual freedom and an order in which such freedom is made possible and guaranteed.
    The intersections of Films/Series and Law represent a significant and prospective research. This edited volume will seek to explore the perception of cities in Films and Series worldwide. It will encourage a plurality of approaches for the understanding and practice of justice, morality and protection of citizens. Contributors may choose to explore semiotic, rhetorical, pragmatic, sociolinguistic, legal, psychological, philosophical and/or visual perspectives on Cities as ill bodies. 

    This edited volume could explore (but is not limited to) the richly complex manifestations of Cities as ill bodies in the following ways:
    - What is an ill city? (State disorder, lawless cities, rebellion, revenge, etc.)
    - How is provided the atmosphere in “ill cities”?
    - How are power structures and citizens represented? 
    - What are the aesthetic and visual processes?
    - How is organized the screenplay?
    - How is captured the ideas of “peace”, “security”, “comfort”, “visibility”, “discretion” and/or “regeneration” in Films and Series?
    - How does law try to regulate “cities as ill bodies”?
    - What are the investigated related approaches to deal with violence, rights, justice, morality, sovereignty, or any other relevant field?

    Submission information:

    Email submission to Anne Wagner (valwagnerfr@yahoo.com)

    Abstracts of 300 words (max.) can be submitted by 28 February 2018 to Anne Wagner with decisions made by March 2018. 
    Full papers of 25 000 words (max) will have to be sent by September 2018 with final decisions by November 2018.

    Anne Wagner, Ph. D., Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches - Qualifiée
    Associate Professor, Université du Littoral Côte d'Opale (France)
    Correspondante LANSAD/CRL - CGU CALAIS
    Centre Droit et Perspectives du Droit, Equipe René Demogue - Université de Lille II (France)
    Research Professor, China University of Political Science and Law (Beijing - China)
    Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - http://www.springer.com/law/journal/11196
    Series Editor, Law, Language and Communication - Routledge (https://www.routledge.com/series/ASHSER1363)
    President of the International Roundtables for the Semiotics of Law - http://www.semioticsoflaw.com/

    May 29, 2017

    A New Book On Twin Peaks From Andreas Halskov @AndreasHalskov @ISBSLaw

    New from the University Press of Southern Denmark/ISBS: Andreas Halskov, Twin Peaks and Modern Television Drama (2017). Here from the publisher's website is a description of the book's contents.
    In 1990, American television was in the midst of a transition, but three major networks still dominated the American TV landscape: CBS, NBC and ABC. CBS and NBC had a financial stronghold, and ABC was “languishing in last place.” The crisis of ABC called for something new, for something that would break the mold and reposition the network. Executives like Robert Iger were willing to take a risk, even if network television was largely conservative, and the willingness to push the envelope made way for a new and edgier type of television drama. Meanwhile, the producer and agent Tony Krantz had talked to David Lynch, the director of Eraserhead (1977) and Blue Velvet (1986), about going into television. This was the beginning of the show Twin Peaks (ABC, 1990-1991), a drama series which was created by David Lynch and Mark Frost, and which would come to push the boundaries of TV drama in many different ways. TV Peaks:

    Twin Peaks and Modern Television Drama explores the last 25 years of American and Scandinavian television, and argues that Twin Peaks was a game changer, pointing to a more transgressive, genre-bending and serialized type of TV drama. Structural changes in the TV landscape were an important factor, as were the rise of new outlets, new media and new modes of viewing. The way we watch TV has, indeed, changed during the last 25 years, but so has the way we view television, and, in this context, Twin Peaks has been a small but important factor. Based on interviews with numerous TV scholars, fans and cast and crew members, TV Peaks investigates the recent changes in television, at a time when Twin Peaks might be coming back.

    Frye on The Zapruder Film In IP Law and Film History @brianlfrye

    Brian L. Frye, University of Kentucky College of Law, is publishing The Zapruder Film in A History of Intellectual Property in 50 Objects (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming). Here is the abstract.
    The Zapruder film is not only the most important home movie ever made, but also the most thoroughly analyzed 26 seconds of film in existence. Shortly after noon on Friday, November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. At least 32 people filmed or photographed some aspect of the event, but Abraham Zapruder captured the assassination itself more clearly and completely than anyone else. His film was a key item of evidence in the government’s investigation of the assassination, and the subject of lasting controversy, at least in part because it was largely unavailable to the public until 1998.
    Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

    Friend or Foe? How SF Portrays Alien Visitors @LaphamsQuart

    May 26, 2017

    Beaulac on Post-World War I/Quiet Revolution (1920-1970) Through the Lenses of Legal Interpretations and International Law @DroitUDM

    Stephanie Beaulac, University of Montreal, Faculty of Law, is publishing Post-World War I/Quiet Revolution (1920-1970) – Through the Lenses of Legal Interpretations and International Law in Celebrating 150 Years of Caselaw in Canada (E. Mendes, ed. Toronto: LexisNexis, forthcoming). Here is the abstract.
    The first theme is legal interpretation. What appears to be a mere matter of methodology in the discipline has ramifications in all areas of substantive law, through the impact of the Constitution, and by means of a generous approach to the whole corpus of law in this country. A significant case in the 1930s changed the paradigm according to which courts give meaning to the written law found in constitutional documents, and this change eventually extended to all legislative texts. The decision by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in Edward v. Canada (Attorney General), with what later became known as the metaphor of the “living tree”, marked the end of an era of strict legal construction and the beginning of a new model to ascertain the intention of the constituting authority in the Constitution Act, 1867, and also later in the Constitution Act, 1982 and the Canadian Charter. The second theme is interlegality, or the rules concerning the interaction between international law and domestic law, including the conclusion of treaties and the use by courts of non-national normativity. Again, it was in the 1930s when the courts of highest instance for Canada laid down the foundations for understanding the dynamic at play in this regard in the so-called Labour Conventions case. Indeed, given the principle of the separation of powers, as well as the federal structure of our country, the Privy Council had to find an equilibrium not only among the branches of governments, but also between the two levels (or orders) of constitutional authorities. In the end, this case recognized the plenitude of power of the federal government for the conclusion of international treaties, while holding that dualism meant that the (federal) Crown could make treaties, but that Parliament and the provincial legislatures needed to give legal effect to such conventions by means of statutes. The domestic implementation of treaty obligations had to be in line, rigorously, with the division of legislative powers under the Constitution. This articulation of interlegality has remained the applicable scheme to this day, although one feature has been challenged at the political level. Indeed, during the Quiet Revolution in the 1960s, the province of Quebec started to claim its own jus tractatus. Thus the second section of this chapter ends with a look at the “Gérin-Lajoie” statement. Finally, the conclusion will examine the significance of these historical developments for contemporary public law in Canada.
    Download the full text of the essay from SSRN at the link.

    May 25, 2017

    Who Wilt Thou Calleth? Ghostbusters!

    If you like Shakespeare, Ghostbusters, and parody,  Ministers of Grace may be your cup of, er, tea.  Written in iambic pentameter by Jordan Monsell, it's a parody of the film starring Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, and Dan Ackroyd, set in England, and written as if by the Bard.  It's available from CreateSpace, and lists for $14.95. Forsooth!

    May the Force Be With You (and Don't Bring a Knife To a Blaster Fight) @TheLegalGeeks

    @ABAesq notes the 40th anniversary of Star Wars with this discussion from Legal Geeks of whether Han Solo shot first and whether it matters. If you aren't up on the whole "Han shot first" debate, cast your mind back to the cantina scene in Star Wars IV: A New Hope in which Han and Greedo have their little discussion over Han's failure to deliver that cargo. Surely you remember that shootout in the cantina? No? Well, read this recap, and then the Legal Geeks' analysis of Han's killing of Greedo. Is it justified?

    More Legal Geeks analysis of other legal issues in Star Wars here.

    A New Book About the Language of Murderers @mikearntfield

    Michael Arntfield, Professor of Criminology and Forensic Writing, Western University, and Marcel Danesi, Professor of Anthropology, University of Toronto, have published Murder in Plain English: From Manifestos To Memes--Looking at Murder Through the Words of Killers (Prometheus Books, 2017). Here from the publisher's website is a description of the book's contents.
    This is the first book to examine murder through the written word—not only the writings of the killers themselves, but also the story of murder as told in literary fiction and the crime dramas that are now a staple of film and television. The authors—a criminologist specializing in cold cases, written evidence, and forensic science, and an anthropologist who has dealt with the signs and ciphers of organized crime and street gangs in his previous work—are widely recognized experts in this emerging specialty field. Based on extensive research and interviews with convicted murderers, the book emphasizes the often-overlooked narrative impulse that drives killers, with the authors explaining how both mass and serial murderers perceive their crimes as stories and why a select few are compelled to commit these stories to writing whether before, during, or after their horrific acts. The book also analyzes the written work of killers, using a combination of machine-based linguistic patterning, predictive modeling, and symbolic interpretation, to make sense of the screeds of everyone from the Son of Sam and the Zodiac Killer to the Columbine attackers, the Unabomber, and the recent spate of mass shooters using social media as their preferred narrative platform. They present a theoretical perspective of murder that is based on both the criminological evidence and written works. In addition, the authors examine famous literature that has dealt ingeniously with murder and its relationship with real crime, from the Greek tragedians to Truman Capote to modern-day productions such as Making a Murderer. This unique approach offers a new means to penetrate the minds of murderers, revealing their motives as well as the wider social meanings of this age-old crime and our continuing fascination with it.

    Reviews by Sharon Wheeler for the Times Higher Education Supplement  (Registration may be required; free)
    San Francisco Book Review
    Michael Thomas Barry for the New York Journal of Books

    May 24, 2017

    Reminder: Call For Papers: AALS Section of Law and the Humanities Panel on Robots and AI in the Humanities, 2018 Annual Meeting

    Reminder: Call For Papers, AALS Section of Law and the Humanities Panel on Robots and AI in the Humanities, 2018 Annual Meeting

    There are still a couple of slots remaining on the AALS Section of Law and the Humanities panel at the 2018 Annual Meeting, San Diego, January 3-January 6, 2018. The theme is the image of robots and AI in the humanities, communication, film, tv, art, commercials, philosophy, and related disciplines. Should robots and AI have rights? If so what rights? 
    Intrigued by the image of robots in film? Have you thought about what norms or law should govern the behavior of AI in society? Input your thoughts into a laptop, or on paper,  or get an android to co-author something with you and send your expression of interest, affiliation, and a short description (100-250 words) of  your proposed paper by June 30, 2017 to

    Christine Corcos (christine.corcos@law.lsu.edu) at LSU Law Center. See you in San Diego!