Law's Stories: Narrative and Rhetoric in the Law

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Peter Brooks, Paul Gewirtz
Yale University Press, 1996 - Law - 290 pages
The law is full of stories, ranging from the competing narratives presented at trials to the Olympian historical narratives set forth in Supreme Court opinions. How those stories are told and listened to makes a crucial difference to those whose lives are reworked in legal storytelling. The public at large has increasingly been drawn to law as an area where vivid human stories are played out with distinctively high stakes. And scholars in several fields have recently come to recognize that law's stories need to be studied critically.This notable volume-inspired by a symposium held at Yale Law School-brings together an exceptional group of well-known figures in law and literary studies to take a probing look at how and why stories are told in the law and how they are constructed and made effective. Why is it that some stories-confessions, victim impact statements-can be excluded from decisionmakers' hearing? How do judges claim the authority by which they impose certain stories on reality?Law's Stories opens new perspectives on the law, as narrative exchange, performance, explanation. It provides a compelling encounter of law and literature, seen as two wary but necessary interlocutors.ContributorsJ. M. BalkinPeter BrooksHarlon L. DaltonAlan M. DershowitzDaniel A. FarberRobert A. FergusonPaul GewirtzJohn HollanderAnthony KronmanPierre N. LevalSanford LevinsonCatharine MacKinnonJanet MalcolmMartha MinowDavid N. RosenElaine ScarryLouis Michael SeidmanSuzanna SherryReva B. SiegelRobert Weisberg.
 

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Contents

Narrative and Rhetoric in the Law
2
The Law as Narrative and Rhetoric
14
Stories in Law
24
The Medium and the Message
37
Leontius Tale
54
Storytelling on Its Own Terms
57
Premises and Pretenses
61
Untold Stories in the Law
84
Some Stories About Confessions and Confessions About Stories
162
Speech Acts in Criminal Cases
165
Legal Rhetoric
176
The Rhetoric of the Judicial Opinion
187
Judicial Opinions as Literature
206
The Reason of Legal Rhetoric and the Rhetoric of Legal Reason
211
Reflections on the Authority of Legal Discourse
225
Laws Stories as Reality and Politics
232

Life Is Not a Dramatic Narrative
99
The SideBar Conference
106
Rhetoric and Result in the Bobby Seale Trial
110
Storytelling Without Fear? Confession in Law and Literature
114
Two Narrative Problems at the Criminal Trial
135
Notes
239
Contributors
279
Index
281
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