Cultural Analysis, Cultural Studies, and the Law

Moving Beyond Legal Realism

Cultural Analysis, Cultural Studies, and the Law

Book Pages: 376 Illustrations: 4 illus. Published: July 2003

Cultural Studies, Law

Cultural Analysis, Cultural Studies, and the Law is a field-defining collection of work at the intersection of law, cultural analysis and cultural studies. Over the past few decades the marked turn toward claims and policy arguments based on cultural identity—such as ethnicity, race, or religion—has pointed up the urgent need for legal studies to engage cultural critiques. Exploration of legal issues through cultural analyses provides a rich supplement to other approaches—including legal realism, law and economics, and law and society. As Austin Sarat and Jonathan Simon demonstrate, scholars of the law have begun to mine the humanities for new theoretical tools and kinds of knowledge. Crucial to this effort is cultural studies, with its central focus on the relationship between knowledge and power.

Drawing on legal scholarship, literary criticism, psychoanalytic theory, and anthropology, the essays collected here exemplify the contributions cultural analysis and cultural studies make to interdisciplinary legal study. Some of these broad-ranging pieces describe particular approaches to the cultural study of the law, while others look at specific moments where the law and culture intersect. Contributors confront the deep connections between law, social science, and post-World War II American liberalism; examine the traffic between legal and late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century scientific discourses; and investigate, through a focus on recovered memory, the ways psychotherapy is absorbed into the law. The essayists also explore specific moments where the law is forced to comprehend the world beyond its boundaries, illuminating its dependence on a series of unacknowledged aesthetic, psychological, and cultural assumptions—as in Aldolph Eichmann’s 1957 trial, hiv-related cases, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent efforts to define the role of race in the construction of constitutionally adequate voting districts.

Contributors. Paul Berman, Peter Brooks, Wai Chee Dimock, Anthony Farley, Shoshanna Felman, Carol Greenhouse, Paul Kahn, Naomi Mezey, Tobey Miller, Austin Sarat, Jonathan Simon, Alison Young


"Sarat and Simon have created a collection that exemplifies the diversity of legal, literary, psychoanalytic, and cultural studies approaches to bridging law and culture. . . . [T]he book provides a good theoretical foundation for Americanists interested in how law regulates culture and vice versa. This book can help scholars and researchers address the relative absence of legal analysis within American Studies scholarship.
— Richard Schur , American Studies International

"These essays . . . provide a useful starting point for anyone who is interested in learning more about the emergence of cultural-legal research and its potential benefits for legal studies." — Lieve Gies, Social & Legal Studies

“Expansive and thought-provoking, Cultural Analysis, Cultural Studies, and the Law captures the variety and richness of cultural approaches to the study of law and culture without sacrificing coherence or rigor.” — Patricia Ewick, coauthor of The Common Place of Law: Stories from Everyday Life

”Cultural Analysis, Cultural Studies, and the Law pulls together a fascinating set of essays that demonstrate the breadth and possibilities of this new field along with an introduction that lays out the field’s terrain and describes something of its origins and possibilities. The intellectual movement is already under way; this book provides a focus for it."—Sally Engle Merry, author of Colonizing Hawai’i: The Cultural Power of Law — N/A


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Austin Sarat is William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science at Amherst College. He is president of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities and past president of the Law & Society Association. He has written and edited many books, including When the State Kills: Capital Punishment and the American Condition.

Jonathan Simon is Professor of Law at the University of Miami School of Law. He is the author of Poor Discipline: Parole and the Social Control of the Underclass, 1890–1990 and coeditor of Embracing Risk: The Changing Culture of Insurance and Responsibility.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Cultural Analysis, Cultural Studies, and the Situation of Legal Scholarship / Austin Sarat and Jonathan Simon 1

I. Approaches to the Cultural Study of Law

Law as Culture / Naomi Mezey 37

What It Is and What It Isn't: Cultural Studies Meets Graduate Student Labor / Toby Miller 73

Telling a Less Suspicious Story: Notes toward a Nonskeptical Approach to Legal/Cultural Analysis / Paul Schiff Berman 105

Freedom, Autonomy, and the Cultural Studies of Law / Paul W. Kahn 154

II. Deploying Law and Legal Ideas in Culture and Society

Ethnography and Democracy: Texts and Contexts in the United States in the 1990s / Carol J. Greenhouse 191

Rules of Law, Laws of Science / Wai Chee Dimock 220

Law, Therapy, Culture / Peter Brooks 245

III. Reading Legal Events

A Ghost in the House of Justice: Death and the Language of the Law / Shoshana Felman 259

Lacan and Voting Rights / Anthony Paul Farley 304

“Into the Blue": The Image Written on Law / Alison Young 327

Contributors 353

Index 355
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3143-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3107-0
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