Roundup: Law and Humanities 04.11.2017

New in the world of law and the humanities/law and popular culture:

Conferences: Call for Papers

Call for papers for an AALS Section of Law and the Humanities panel at the 2018 Annual Meeting, San Diego, January 3-January 6, 2018,  on the theme of the image of robots and AI in the humanities, communication, film, tv, art, commercials, philosophy, and related disciplines. Should robots and AI have rights? If so what rights?

Please send expressions of interest, your affiliation, and a short description (100-250 words) of the proposed paper by May 15, 2017 to
Christine Corcos (


The American Society of Comparative Law and American University College of Law invite all interested scholars to consider submitting a panel proposal for the upcoming Annual Meeting of the American Society of Comparative Law that will be held between Thursday, October 26, and Saturday, October 28, 2017, at American University Washington College of Law, Washington D.C.  entitled Comparative law, Faith and Religion:  The Role of Faith in Law.

The Annual Meeting Committee of the American Society of Comparative Law will select the panels that will be held at the meeting in consultation with American University Washington College of Law. Panel proposals should include up to four speakers, a panel title, and a one-to-two-paragraph description of the ideas that the panel will explore. Panel proposals should be submitted via e-mail to Tra Pham at of American University Washington College of Law no later than June 1, 2017, and copied to Máximo Langer from the American Society of Comparative law at

Any questions about the panel proposals should be addressed to Máximo Langer and copied to Fernanda Nicola ( and Padideh Alai (


Selected New Publications

Now available for purchase: A Transnational Study of Law and Justice on TV (Peter Robson and Jennifer L. Schulz, eds.; Hart Publishing, 2016). Here’s a description of the contents from the publisher’s website.

This collection examines law and justice on television in different countries around the world. It provides a benchmark for further study of the nature and extent of television coverage of justice in fictional, reality and documentary forms. It does this by drawing on empirical work from a range of scholars in different jurisdictions. Each chapter looks at the raw data of how much “justice” material viewers were able to access in the multi-channel world of 2014 looking at three phases: apprehension (police), adjudication (lawyers), and disposition (prison/punishment).

All of the authors indicate how television developed in their countries. Some have extensive public service channels mixed with private media channels. Financing ranges from advertising to programme sponsorship to licensing arrangements. A few countries have mixtures of these. Each author also examines how “TV justice” has developed in their own particular jurisdiction. Readers will find interesting variations and thought-provoking similarities. There are a lot of television shows focussed on legal themes that are imported around the world. The authors analyse these as well.
This book is a must-read for anyone interested in law, popular culture, TV, or justice and provides an important addition to the literature due to its grounding in empirical data.

The book is available in hardcover and E-book editions.  Coverage includes Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, and the U.S. (this last by yours truly).


Pedro Tiago Ferreira, University of Lisbon, Faculty of Arts and School of Law, is publishing Modern Day Slavery: A Reading of Orwell’s Animal Farm in series Iii, No. 11, of the Revista Anglo Saxonia (2016). Here is the abstract.

This article intends to call attention to the fact that slavery is not solely a legal institution. The rules that make up the institution of slavery are also social, moral and religious. This means that the revocation of the legal rules which are a component of the institution of slavery is not enough to abolish the institution as a whole. In order to understand the weight that the non-legal rules have on modern slavery—i.e. slavery which is not condoned by the law—George Orwell’s Animal Farm is discussed, as this tale of apparent liberation turns out to be one of de facto, or modern day, slavery. Before turning to Animal Farm, I discuss slavery as an institution, and whether or not it still remains a legal possibility in the United States.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.


Cathrine O. Frank, Law, Literature, and the Transmission of Culture in England, 1837-1925 (Routledge, 2012) is now available in paperback.

Law, Literature, and the Transmission of Culture in England, 1837–1925 (Paperback) book cover


Framing Law and Crime: An Interdisciplinary Anthology (Caroline Joan “Kay” S. Picart, Michael Hviid Jacosen, and Cecil Greek, eds.; Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2016). Here is a description of the contents from the publisher’s website.

This cutting-edge edited collection brings together 17 scholarly essays on two of cinema and television’s most enduring and powerful themes: law and crime. With contributions by many of the most prominent scholars in law, sociology, criminology, and film, Framing Law and Crime offers a critical survey of a variety of genres and media, integrating descriptions of technique with critical analysis, and incorporating historical and socio-political critique. The first set of essays brings together accounts of the history of the Law and Cinema Movement; the groundbreaking genre of “post-apocalyptic fiction;” and the policy-setting genesis of a Canadian documentary. The second section of the book turns to the examination of a range of international or global films, with an eye to assessing the strengths, frailties, and possible functions of law, as depicted in fictional cinema. After an international focus in the second section, the third section focuses on law and crime in American film and television, inclusive of both fictional and documentary modes of narration. This section’s expansion beyond film narratives to include television series attempts to broaden the scope of the edited collection, in terms of media discussed; it is also a nod to how the big screen, although still a dominant force in American popular culture, now has to compete, to some extent, with the small screen, for influence over the collective American popular cultural imaginary. The fourth section, titled brings together various chapters that attempt to instantiate how a “Gothic Criminology” could be useful, as an interpretative framework in analyzing depictions of law and crime in film and television. The fifth and final section covers issues of pedagogy, epistemology, and ethics in relation to moving images of law and crime. Merging wide-ranging analyses with nuanced scholarly interpretations, Framing Law and Crime examines key concepts and showcases original research reflecting the latest interdisciplinary trends in the scholarship of the moving image. It addresses, not only scholars, but also fans, and will heighten the appreciation of connoisseurs and newcomers to these topics alike.


David Ray Papke, Professor of Law, Marquette Law School, has published Hollywood Legal Comedies: Fun, Laughter, and a Dose of Critique, at Marquette Lawyer 34 (Fall 2016). He begins:

The American film industry has frequently portrayed heroic lawyers and stirring courtroom proceedings. Almost everyone is familiar with Atticus Finch’s stand for racial justice in To Kill a Mockingbird or Frank Galvin’s moving summation in The Verdict. But Hollywood has also used lawyers and courtrooms as sources of humor rather than drama more often than one might think. Countless delightful lawyers and hilarious trials have appeared on the big screen over the past century of feature-film production.



For the website Geek, K. Thor Jensen @kthorjensen gives us a list of really, really unappetizing sf Presidents. Remember Morgan Clark (Gary McGurk) from Babylon 5? Or Lex Luthor? How would you rank these candidates for Worst SF President Ever?
Some popular publications are weighing in on representations of law, lawyers, and legal processes on tv and film. In a recent article, Slate’s Rebecca Schuman suggests that “all of Hollywood’s depictions” of college tenure processes are incorrect. Meanwhile, The Atlantic examines Better Call Saul.

Paul Raffield, Professor of Law, University of Warrick, is publishing The Art of Law in Shakespeare (Hart Publishing, 2017). Here is a description of the book’s contents from the publisher’s website.

Through an examination of five plays by Shakespeare, the author analyses the contiguous development of common law and poetic drama during the first decade of Jacobean rule. The broad premise of the book is that the ‘artificial reason’ of law was a complex art form, which shared the same rhetorical strategy as the plays of Shakespeare. Common law and Shakespearean drama of this period employed various aesthetic devices to capture the imagination and the emotional attachment of their respective audiences. Common law of the Jacobean era, as spoken in the law courts, learnt at the Inns of Court, and recorded in the law reports, used imagery that would have been familiar to audiences at the plays of Shakespeare. In its juridical form, English law was intrinsically dramatic, its adversarial mode of expression being founded on an agonistic model. Conversely, Shakespeare borrowed from the common law some of its most critical themes: justice, legitimacy, sovereignty, community, fairness, and (above all else) humanity. Each chapter investigates a particular aspect of the common law, seen through the lens of a specific play by Shakespeare. Topics include the unprecedented significance of rhetorical skills to the practice and learning of common law (Love’s Labour’s Lost); the early modern treason trial as exemplar of the theatre of law (Macbeth); the art of law as the legitimate distillation of the law of nature (The Winter’s Tale); the efforts of common lawyers to create an image of nationhood from both classical and Judaeo-Christian mythography (Cymbeline); and the theatrical device of the island as microcosm of the Jacobean state and the project of imperial expansion (The Tempest).


Bethonie Butler of the Washington Post discusses GLAAD’s annual report, Where We Are On TV, ’16-’17, on the number of LBGTQ characters on TV, which notes that those numbers are increasing. GLAAD says that 43 of the 895 recurrring TV characters are identifiably LBGTQ. For example, as many as 16 on MSM, cable, and streaming shows are transgender. Representation of diabled characters is up from less than one percent to nearly two percent.

About twenty percent of TV recurring characters are black, although female black characters continue to be less highly represented than black men.

The report contains more interesting information, and breakdowns by legacy tv, cable, and streaming networks.

The 2015 report is available here.



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