Monday, January 9, 2023

Walker on Del Mar's "Artefacts of Legal Inquiry"

In the Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Greg Walker, Regius Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature at the University of Edinburgh, has published a very thoughtful assessment, from “a literary perspective,” of Maksymilian Del Mar’s Artefacts of Legal Inquiry: The Value of Imagination in Adjudication (Hart, 2020).  It commences:

Maksymilian Del Mar’s ground-breaking monograph, Artefacts of Legal Inquiry: The Value of Imagination in Adjudication (hereafter Artefacts) offers a rich, multi-faceted account of what happens when judges examine the submissions of advocates and decide how the English common law should be applied in particular cases. Based on voracious reading in, and thinking through, the principles and practises of English common law, European philosophy, and global literary studies, it is a book which only someone trained and acculturated in all three disciplines could produce. It is demonstrably a tour de force of up-to-the-minute interdisciplinary scholarship.

But what, it might be asked, does a book that offers a detailed, case-specific account of the linguistic and cognitive dimensions of judicial inquiry in the field of twentieth-century common law practise have to interest a scholar of sixteenth-century literature and politics? The answer, it turns out, is a great deal, not least because many of the roots of both modern legal conventions and early Tudor literature, deep and long-lasting in the first case, relatively newly formed and close to the surface in the second, can be traced to the legal training, the moots and disputations of the early-modern Inns of Court, an institution in which both Del Mar and I have an abiding scholarly interest. But, more generally, what is not to like for a literary scholar in a book that talks about genres, figures, metaphors, audiences and performances, scenarios, figures and tropes, and which discusses the literariness and narrativity of inquiry, and its ‘poetic character’?