Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Farmer on the emergence of the "Notable Trial" in England and Scotland

Lindsay Farmer, University of Glasgow, has a new paper, 'With All the Impressiveness and Substantial Value of Truth': Notable Trials and Criminal Justice, 1750-1930. It appears in Law and Humanities, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2007. Here's the abstract:
This paper examines the changing forms of trial narratives, between 1750 and 1930, looking in particular at the way in which these mirror changes in the form of the criminal trial and legitimate a certain understanding of the adversarial criminal trial as the pre-eminent symbol of criminal justice. Initially the primary focus is on the political function of the criminal trial and jury, but over the period the focus comes to be the on the character of the participants, and the truths that can be revealed about crime and society through the drama of the law. This process culminates in the emergence of the 'notable trial' in England and Scotland at the end of the century. Through the study of these narratives we can see how the trial was reordered and produced as a new kind of popular spectacle in the latter half of the nineteenth century.