The Aesthetics of International Law
International law is a fundamentally modern phenomenon. Tracing its roots to nineteenth-century pronouncements on the 'law of nations,' the discipline took shape in the elaborate treaty structures of the post-First World War era and in the institutions and tribunals established after the Second World War. International law as scholars know and study it today is a product of modernism.
In The Aesthetics of International Law, Ed Morgan engages in a literary parsing of international legal texts. In order to demonstrate how these types of legal narratives are imbued with modernist aesthetics, Morgan juxtaposes international legal documents and modern (as well as some immediately pre- and post-modern) literary texts. He demonstrates how the same intellectual currents that flow through the works of authors ranging from Edgar Allan Poe to James Joyce to Vladimir Nabokov are also present in legal doctrines ranging from the law of war to international commercial disputes to human rights.
By providing a comparative, interdisciplinary account of this modern phenomenon, Morgan's work highlights the ways judges, lawyers, and state representatives artfully exploit the narratives of international law. It demonstrates that just as modernist literature developed complex narrative techniques as a way of dealing with the human condition, modern international law has developed parallel argumentative techniques as a way of dealing with international political conditions.