RSA Session (Panel) 2016: Poetics of Law: Literary Form and Legal Experience, Feeling, and Knowledge

full name / name of organization: 
Penelope Geng, Macalester College
contact email: 

Proposal Deadline: June 1, 2015

Keywords: Early modern literature, literature and law, form, new formalism, genre, print history, rhetoric, jurisprudence

This session on the "poetics of law" seeks to map points of intersection between the study of literature and law and new formalism, rhetoric, and book history. Recent scholarship has revealed the numerous and surprising ways literary and legal authors transgressed the limits of their respective faculties. How might we advance our understanding of the interconnectedness of literature and law through an investigation of textual form itself? How did early modern literary authors appropriate law's "devices" (broadly conceived) to shape the representation of legal experience, feeling, and knowledge? How did the cross-pollination of literature and law in early modern communities broaden the range of ideas, arguments, narratives, feelings, and experiences available to writers working in either sphere?

Possible areas for presentation and discussion include:

• How form (structural, metrical, material) interacts with narrative in the representation of legal feeling, experience, and knowledge
• The appearance of legal forms in literary writing (or vice versa)
• Locating a place for new formalism within literature and law studies
• Tracing the impact of Aristotle's Poetics, Ethics, or Rhetoric on the writing of literature and law c.1500-1700

Please send a précis (including the title of the paper, an abstract of 150 words, and keywords) and a 300-word curriculum vitae to Penelope Geng at by June 1, 2015.