"Pre-Modern Legal Fictions" UCI Early Cultures Grad Student Conference

full name / name of organization: 
Robin Stewart
contact email: 


The Group for the Study of Early Cultures at the University of California,
Irvine announces its Second Annual Graduate Student Conference:

Friday & Saturday, November 13-14, 2009, at UC Irvine
With a key-note address by Laurie Shannon, Associate Professor of English
and the Wender Lewis Teaching and Research Professor, Northwestern

“…fictions are to law what fraud is to trade.” –Jeremy Bentham

This conference will explore the intersection between the practice of law
and other forms of extra-legal thought (including literary, theological,
artistic or other cultural forces) and the figural extension of both to
cultural expression. In the broadest sense, “legal fiction” refers to any
work of literature or art that takes law or the practice of law as its
central thematic focus. We also invite papers dealing with “legal
fictions” in any pre-modern period in the technical sense – that is, any
fictional assumption invoked in law to solve procedural difficulties (e.g.
corporate personhood).

We invite all interested graduate students from any university in any
discipline to submit a one-page abstract on any topic dealing with
pre-modern legal fictions. Abstracts should be 300 words or less and
should be submitted by August 31, 2209.

Suggested themes or topics:

• Trial scenes or literary representations of legal concepts and/or
procedures in pre-modern poetry, drama, or prose.
• Instances in early cultures of the “legal fiction” which, as 19th
century historian Henry Maine writes, “conceals or affects to conceal, the
fact that a rule of law has undergone alteration, its letter remaining
unchanged” (Ancient Law, Ch, II).
• The figure of the lawyer or advocate in pre-modern literature and/or
other media.
• The use and/or development of legal fictions in pre-modern societies.
• Development of capital as a legal fiction (i.e. early examples or
origins of commodity fetishism, etc.).
• Modern or contemporary reception of pre-modern legal fictions.
• The origin and development of “the state of nature” as a fiction or
fantasy that structures the political and legal imagination before and
through the Enlightenment.
• The effect of religious law on images in literature and iconography.

Please e-mail submissions or questions for further details to one of the
following conference organizers:

Robin Stewart, English – stewartr@uci.edu
C.J. Gordon, Comparative Literature – cjgordon@uci.edu
Alexander Perkins, Classics – adperkin@uci.edu

Accepted participants will be notified by September 15, 2009.
Accommodations with UCI graduate students can be arranged to save
participants the cost of hotels, but each participant must pay the cost of
travel to and from the conference.

The Group for the Study of Early Cultures focuses mainly on fields that
investigate pre-modern societies, including but not limited to: Classics,
Late Antiquity, Medieval Studies, Renaissance Studies, 18th Century
Studies, East Asian Studies, Latin American Studies, and Islamic Studies.
We are also interested in a wide range of disciplinary approaches to Early
Cultures, including literary studies, history, art history, drama, visual
studies, sociology, culture studies, anthropology, political science,
philosophy, and religious studies. For more information about our
organization, please visit our website:

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