Saturday, November 29, 2008

British Law Publishing: Court-Martial Narratives and Jacob's Manuals

I am grateful to a reader of Legal History Blog, Robert C. Richards, Jr., for drawing my attention to two publications that have recently become available to subscribers of Project Muse. The first is Ala Alryyes, War at a Distance: Court-Martial Narratives in the Eighteenth Century, 41 Eighteenth-Century Studies 525 (2008), available here and here. Quoth the abstract:
This article argues that what I call “court-martial narratives,” published British pamphlets purporting to be eye-witness accounts of military trials, provide insights into both the ubiquity of war in the eighteenth century and its distance from the everyday life of the reading public in London. These accounts, sophisticated literary and legal narratives that might well be considered a developed eighteenth-century genre, highlight particular circumstances of courts-martial proceedings at the outposts of empire that conflict with the universalist claim of law’s application. A first-person “editor” often interprets evidence and recounts the fate of the accused officer as well as the sufferings of his family. Thus, court-martial narratives also often preserve records of female roles in war and politics.
The second is Julia Rudolph, That "Blunderbuss of Law": Giles Jacob, Abridgment, and Print Culture, 37 Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture 197 (2008), available here and here. The author explains:
Giles Jacob has been recently described as "the most prolific author of self-help legal manuals." He is well known as the author of the enormously influential eighteenth-century New Law Dictionary -- a text that reached a sizable audience not only in Britain but also in colonial America where it was "the most widely used English law dictionary" and could be found in the libraries of many colonial lawyers, including the most prominent. The New Law Dictionary was probably Jacob's most successful work, but it was only one among the many practical legal, political, and literary works he produced in the first few decades of the eighteenth century.