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Legal Fictions, NEMLA, April 7-10, 2011
full name / name of organization:
42nd Annual Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association
The concept of a “legal fiction”—“a supposition avowedly false, but treated as if it were true, for the imagined convenience of administering the law” (Lewis, 1832)—describes the pretenses that disguise changes in the application of a legal rule. However, as its terminological indebtedness to the institution of fiction underscores, the concept also offers a suggestive rubric for understanding the nexus between law and literature—reminding us that law, as much as literature, is an unstable amalgam of fact and fiction. Examining the fictional elements of law, nonetheless, need not end only in textual ambiguity. The characterization of extant laws as mere fictions of the state has often been a strategy for political critique and legal reform. This panel invites textually grounded historical and theoretical considerations of the epistemological affinities and/or disparities between law and literature. Topics might include: natural rights discourse, literary allusions in legal cases, reformist literature, the role of genre in law, the categorization of enslaved persons as “chattel,” and the philosophical ramifications of corporate personhood and other legal fictions on notions of agency and responsibility.
Please send 300-500 word abstracts, along with a brief CV, to Carrie Hyde (firstname.lastname@example.org) by September 30th.
Please include with your abstract:
Name and Affiliation
Interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one NeMLA session; however panelists can only present one paper (panel or seminar). Convention participants may present a paper at a panel and also present at a creative session or participate in a roundtable. Please do not accept a slot if you may cancel to present on another session.