Integrating Humanities into Family Law and the Problem with Truths Universally Acknowledged

17 Feb 2012 02:55pm Carol Sanger 

Role, Identity, and Lawyering: Empowering Professional Responsibility

17 Feb 2012 02:51pm Natasha Martin 

Dick Wolf Goes to Law School: Integrating the Humanities into Courses on Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and Evidence

17 Feb 2012 02:48pm David Alan Sklansky 

This piece was written for a program held by the American Association of Law Schools Section on Law and Humanities, "Excavating and Integrating Law and Humanities in the Core Curriculum," on January 5, 2012.

My assignment for this symposium is to discuss ways of integrating the humanities into the core law school courses on criminal law, criminal procedure, and evidence-what you might call the Dick Wolf courses. In one respect the topic is trivial and almost meaningless. It is hard to come up with a sensible definition of the humanities that excludes much of what goes on all the time in a law school classroom: reading judicial decisions, trying to make sense of them, arguing about justice and fairness. We are a little in the position of Moliere's Bourgeois Gentleman, who discovered to his delight that he'd been speaking prose all his life without realizing it. There is another respect in which integrating the humanities into courses on criminal law, criminal procedure, and evidence, while not trivial, is or should be uncontroversial. Precisely because the law addresses philosophical questions and responds to historical developments-and precisely because the law is itself an object of philosophical speculation and is itself a part of history-it is natural to take explicit note of philosophy and history in class. It is hard to teach criminal law or evidence law successfully without mentioning Jeremy Bentham. It is hard to teach the right to counsel properly without mentioning the Scottsboro Boys; hard to make Terry v. Ohio fully comprehensible without discussing the urban riots of the late 1960s and the Kerner Commission report; hard to do justice to the M'Naughten rule without at least touching on Daniel M'Naughten and the Chartists.

I am going to talk about integrating the humanities in a narrower sense: integrating the arts, and in particular literature and the performing arts. It's easier to do this in the Dick Wolf courses than in many other law school classes. Crime, policing, and trials are such staples of novels, plays, movies and television-even aside from the endlessly sprawling universe of Law & Order- that it is hard to think of much literature or dramatic art that doesn't touch, at least in passing, on criminal justice or trial procedure or both. Popular music, too, has a tendency to return again and again to issues of crime and punishment.

Incorporating Literary Methods and Texts in the Teaching of Tort Law

17 Feb 2012 02:36pm Zahr K. Said 

This piece was written for a program held by the American Association of Law Schools Section on Law and Humanities, "Excavating and Integrating Law and Humanities in the Core Curriculum," on January 5, 2012.

Tort law is frequently taught in terms of economic concepts: efficiency, capture, cost distribution, risk allocation, and so on. Alternatively, or in parallel, a philosophical perspective may wend its way into the first-year tort curriculum through discussions of distributive and corrective justice. Literature, however, is comparatively under-investigated as an arena for tort pedagogy and for first-year courses in the legal curriculum generally. Where literature tends to appear in law school, it most frequently does so in the form of stand-alone law-and-literature classes, which usually focus heavily on literature. For three years, I taught such a course at the University of Virginia School of Law. In that class, I continually tried to teach literary texts in a way that juxtaposed them with live legal issues. Still, the emphasis was, by and large, on literature, rather than on law. By contrast, in teaching a first-year tort law course at the University of Washington School of Law this year, I have explicitly used literature to aid and amplify legal analysis. The emphasis has been on law, rather than on literature. Nonetheless, literary texts and methods helped my students investigate how the law conceives of, and expresses, duties and losses among parties. My approach sought both to incorporate and to move beyond what Jane Baron has called, in characterizing aspects of first-generation law-and- literature scholarship, the "humanist" and "narrative" schools. Instead, the course drew on several diverse strands of law-and-literature methodology and it incorporated literary texts and methods into discussions of case law and legal policy to produce analysis that is deeply interdisciplinary. Content and methodology, to the extent they can be satisfactorily decoupled, informed my teaching of Torts in separate ways. First, I incorporated a central literary text that accompanied more traditional legal materials. Second, I required students to engage in close reading and I helped them theorize the act of reading itself. By emphasizing the textually mediated nature of the cases-both as a function of common law's system of authority through analogy, and as a function of the casebook editors' choices-I hope to have made clear to students that this is a new type of reading they are doing in law school, and that they are learning to think in new ways. In growing acculturated to legal analysis, law students are learning not just a new language, but a new awareness of how and why they read the way they do.

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