189 | CCN: 22939

Special Topics in Rhetoric

Law, Language, and Literature

Instructor: Marianne Constable,

4 Units

Modern US law is very much a matter of language. In this course, we will learn about the history of the English language and, in so doing, learn about the history of US legal language. We will read three great examples of English-language literature concerned with law (Chaucer-Middle English, Shakespeare-Early Modern English, Twain-Modern (19th-Century) American), as well as legal materials and secondary sources on figures of speech and on performative utterances. The aim is to refine students’ abilities to read difficult texts, to understand law and literature as works of language, and to explore how language claims justice.

Requirements: Three 5 – 7 page papers; several short assignments or quizzes; attendance and participation. (NOTE: students who do not attend for the first two weeks will be dropped in favor of students who do.)

Required texts:

Austin, How to Do Things with Words

Barfield, History in English Words

Chaucer, Prologue, Man of Law’s Tale

Quinn, Figures of Speech

Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

Anna Deavere Smith, Twilight

Thomas, Plessy v Ferguson, A Brief History with Documents

Twain, Pudd’nhead Wilson

Photocopied reader/bCourse materials