courses / Fall 2011 / Representing Justice

Fall 2011

168 001 - Representing Justice

Instructor  Samera Esmeir

The image of Justice as a blind-folded woman holding scales is ubiquitous: it appears everywhere from courthouses to cartoons. Where did such personification come from and what makes it legible? How has the public face of justice changed? One often hears about law doing justice (or not), but how is justice shown or seen? How do public images of justice relate to practices and discourses of law?

How are sight, hearing, balance involved in justice? In adjudication? Have democratic aspirations changed the ways in which law and justice are represented? How are courthouses - and other legal institutions - implicated in contemporary issues and images of access to justice?

In this course, we will use Curtis and Resnik’s Representing Justice as a basis from which to explore the relations between public representations of justice, aspirations of democracy, and state practices of adjudication. We’ll supplement their work with articles and images from elsewhere, including work by theorists that you may have read (or read about) in other Rhetoric courses: Bentham, Foucault, Bourdieu, Rawls, Ranciere. Supplementary (required and recommended) readings and images will be posted on B-space or available on line. Students will be required to prepare short writings in conjunction with weekly reading assignments and to participate in one campus library research workshop and at least 2 fieldtrips to view local art and architecture. There will be three required 5-7 page papers, with drafts optional.

Attendance during the first 2 weeks is absolutely required. Enrolled students who do not attend will be dropped in favor of students who do attend. Please bring 2 images of “justice” in a form that can easily be circulated to the first class and be prepared to say something that interests you about them.

Required Reading
Dennis E. Curtis and Judith Resnik, Representing Justice: Invention, Controversy, and Rights in City-States and Democratic Courtrooms (Yale Law Library Series in Legal History and Reference)