A decade ago, at the end of her characteristically astute provocation of law and literature scholars in “Law, Literature, and the Vanishing Real,” Julie Peters suggested moving beyond the law/literature dichotomy into both “law, culture, and the humanities” and global “disciplinary tourism.” By silently glossing over “literature” in favor of the broader terms “culture” or the “humanities,” new formulations of the area of study might, she indicated, help to dispel the “interdisciplinary illusion” fueling the opposition between and relation of law and literature, dispensing with the notion shared by scholars of both law and literature that the “real” is located just over the methodological divide between the fields. Peters’ essay valuably rejected the binary that appears in far too many versions of law and literature scholarship. Its aspiration to put aside disciplinary boundaries among sectors of the humanities in studying “law, culture, and the humanities” or “law and the humanities” tout court has not, however, proved entirely feasible, nor is it necessarily desirable.
As those familiar with “law and society” know, the turn toward a broader category — like culture, or the humanities, or society — may not remain unvexed, as questions arise respecting the unity of the umbrella term and its framing in opposition to law. Moreover, from within the parameters of law, and particularly those of legal pedagogy, “law and the humanities” designates not precisely a decomposition of the boundaries between law and its outside, but a gesture toward one form of law’s outside, the humanistic, as opposed generally to the social sciences. Despite the proliferation of the “law and” fields, many — including law and the humanities — still appear from the vantage point of legal pedagogy as a superficial carapace that can be shed when financial exigencies press law schools to cut costs and reduce tuition.
This Article aims to demonstrate the centrality of the humanities to the core of law school pedagogy today. At the same time, by focusing on two areas within the humanities — literature and history — it tries to show how disciplines still matter, both as engines and impediments. Examining the shifting passions that bind law, literature, and history to each other, it foregrounds the dynamic quality of disciplinary relations as the attraction of fields for each other waxes and wanes. This dynamism itself advances the possibilities for new births of knowledge. Although unstable and of unknown fate, the love triangle of law, literature, and history continues to spawn fertile offspring.
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Meyler on the "Love Triangle" of Law, Literature and History
Bernadette A. Meyler, Stanford Law School, has posted Law, Literature, and History: The Love Triangle, which is forthcoming in the UC Irvine Law Review: