Bradin Cormack, Martha C. Nussbaum, and Richard StrierShakespeare and the law: a conversation among disciplines and professions.
University of Chicago Press, Chicago/London, 2013, 352 pp.
William Shakespeare is inextricably linked with the law. Legal documents make up most of the records we have of his life, and trials, lawsuits, and legal terms permeate his plays. Gathering an extraordinary team of literary and legal scholars, philosophers, and even sitting judges, Shakespeare and the Law demonstrates that Shakespeare’s thinking about legal concepts and legal practice points to a deep and sometimes vexed engagement with the law’s technical workings, its underlying premises, and its social effects.
Shakespeare and the Law opens with three essays that provide useful frameworks for approaching the topic, offering perspectives on law and literature that emphasize both the continuities and contrasts between the two fields. In its second section, the book considers Shakespeare’s awareness of common law thinking and common law practice through examinations of Measure for Measure and Othello. Building and expanding on this question, the third part inquires into Shakespeare’s general attitudes toward legal systems. A judge and a former solicitor general rule on Shylock’s demand for enforcement of his odd contract; and two essays by literary scholars take contrasting views on whether Shakespeare could imagine a functioning legal system. The fourth section looks at how law enters into conversation with issues of politics and community, both in the plays and in our own world. The volume concludes with a freewheeling colloquy among Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Judge Richard Posner, Martha C. Nussbaum, and Richard Strier that covers everything from the ghost in Hamlet to the nature of judicial discretion.
Celebrating the sometimes fractious intellectual energy produced by scholars and practitioners tackling the question of Shakespeare and the law, this collection is a resource and provocation for further thinking and ongoing discussion.
Introduction: Shakespeare and the Law
Bradin Cormack, Martha C. Nussbaum, and Richard Strier
I. HOW TO THINK “LAW AND LITERATURE” IN SHAKESPEARE
Two Differences between Law and Literature
Decision, Possession: The Time of Law in The Winter’s Tale and the Sonnets
“Lively Evidence”: Legal Inquiry and the Evidentia of Shakespearean Drama
II. SHAKESPEARE’S KNOWLEDGE OF LAW: STATUTE LAW, CASE LAW
Interpreting Statute in Measure for Measure
Richard H. McAdams
Vengeance, Complicity, and Criminal Law in Othello
III. SHAKESPEARE’S ATTITUDES TOWARD LAW: IDEAS OF JUSTICE
Richard A. Posner
Law and Commerce in The Merchant of Venice
Opinion of Fried, J., Concurring in the Judgment
Equity in Measure for Measure
Shakespeare and Legal Systems: The Better the Worse (but Not Vice Versa)
IV. LAW, POLITICS, AND COMMUNITY IN SHAKESPEARE
Liquid Fortification and the Law in King Lear
Saying in The Merchant of Venice
Marie Theresa O'Connor
A British People: Cymbeline and the Anglo-Scottish Union Issue
Martha C. Nussbaum
“Romans, Countrymen, and Lovers”: Political Love and the Rule of Law in Julius Caesar
Diane P. Wood
A Lesson from Shakespeare to the Modern Judge on Law, Disobedience, Justification, and Mercy
Shakespeare’s Laws: A Justice, a Judge, a Philosopher, and an English Professor
Bradin Cormack is professor of English and director of the Nicholson Center for British Studies.
Martha C. Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor in the Law School, the Department of Philosophy, and the Divinity School.
Richard Strier is the Frank L. Sulzberger Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of English and in the College, all at the University of Chicago.
Shakespeare. Image by Farrukh under a CC BY-NC license
Actas de la Conference on 'Shakespeare and the law' celebrada en la Universit
el año 2009. y of Chicago