240F | CCN: 32668

Rhetorical Theory and Criticism: Legal Rhetoric and Philosophy

Instructor: Marianne Constable,

4 Units

This interdisciplinary seminar explores problems of knowledge in the context of history and practice of largely Western law. As introduction, we will read J.L.Austin’s How to Do Things with Words, focusing on the way in which law is a profession of words and broadly introducing issues of reason, authority, evidence and justice. We will then spend several weeks on some foundational jurisprudential texts, from Plato’s Laws to Hart’s Concept of Law. The second half of the course will turn to some classic works in other fields (such as history, sociology, anthropology, literature) that engage with the theory, history, and role of the Anglo-American trial. Final weeks of the course will integrate and highlight particular issues (in such areas as intellectual property, immigration, criminal procedure, to be determined in part by student interest) that allow one to attend to the ways that utterances, documents and material evidence work differently within and outside the formal legal process.

In sum, we will concern ourselves not only with the legal treatment of so-called facts, but also with the “fact” of law. The seminar is designed both as a broad introduction to the fields of legal rhetoric or legal philosophy and to a range of disciplinary approaches and methods vis-à-vis law and as an opportunity to focus in a bit more depth on a particular research topic.