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New Publication: “Law and Humanities” Volume 7


The contents of Law and Humanities Volume 7. Number 1. 2013 are shown below.



“‘The Cutting Edge of Cocking About’: Top Gear, Automobility and Law”
Kieran Tranter and Damien Martin
Abstract: This paper argues that the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) television series Top Gear (2002-) presents a significant opportunity to think about automobility, masculinity and law. As a show about cars and car culture it can be seen, and dismissed, as a gratuitous celebration of ‘combustion masculinity.’ However, its irony, humour and nostalgia combine to highlight that this way of being male lies in the past. Focusing on Top Gear series 13 (June-August 2009) it is argued that the essence of combustion masculinity lies not only in risk and competition but law. However, the show goes further. In its excessive performance of combustion masculinity it engages in gentle critique. In the post-industrial era where the motor vehicle’s cultural status is declining Top Gear is itself a vehicle allowing combustion masculinity to be overtaken by less risky, less violent and more lawful ways of being male.

“Oaths, Credibility and the Legal Process in Early Modern England: Part Two”
Barbara J Shapiro
Abstract: This is the second part of an article, Part One of which appeared in the December 2012 issue of Law and Humanities. Part One broadened the scope of the study of the law of evidence by examining the whole range of fact-taking practices in early modern English society as a necessary background to understanding how oaths functioned in the legal evidentiary environment. It questioned the argument of George Fisher that contemporary belief in the divine power of the oath to compel truthful testimony pressed the legal system to avoid the credibility conflicts that would be generated by competing oaths. Shapiro examined how oath-taking by witnesses interacted with the oaths of grand jurors and petit jurors as well as with oath-taking outside the legal setting. The latter portion of Part One began an extensive analysis of credibility issues, suggesting that the frequent expression of credibility concerns at the time undermined the view that oath-takers were almost uniformly believed to be truth-tellers. Part Two aims to broaden the scope of the credibility issue, looking beyond the formal juridical context of the jury trial to the employment of credibility criteria in a wide variety of cultural arenas; thereby demonstrating that legal and non-legal discussions of credibility invariably overlapped and intertwined.

“Towards a Critique of Narrative Reason”
François Ost
Abstract: This paper aims to rehabilitate the role of narrative, against the dominant strategy of thinking, which disqualifies it. We have grown up with stories, which makes this plea easy: they are all around, nurturing us and arousing general sympathy amongst the doxa. But at the same time, the prevailing doctrine tends to discredit narrative, presenting it as private and frivolous in order to constrain its powers. I would like to demonstrate the constitutive nature of narrative both as the collective story, memory and history of peoples, and as the individual or ‘personal novel’ each one of us tells himself in order to create his own identity. I analyse the repression and disqualifications of narrative, before revealing the ways in which both theoretical and practical reason arise from within our narrative imagination. This conception of the human as homo fabulans (or story-telling animal) could lead us to outline a ‘Critique of Narrative Reason’.

“Recovering the Lost Human Stories of Law: Finding Mrs Burns”
Dawn Watkins
Abstract: This paper adopts a narrative approach as a means to investigating a well-known English civil law case; Burns v Burns [1984] Ch 317. It seeks to demonstrate some of the consequences of the ‘we’ and ‘they’ distinction that characterises much legal practice and discourse. In particular, it is argued that the identity of ‘Mrs Burns’, as revealed in the reported ‘facts of the case’ and scrutinised in subsequent legal discourse, is merely our distorted creation. Nevertheless, we continue to refer to the reported judgment as the ultimate source of authority of these ‘facts’ and we persist in pretending to ourselves that Mrs Burns was intimately involved in the establishment of them. Drawing on Delgado’s ‘plea for narrative’, Mrs Burns’ own counterstory is presented here as a both as challenge to our usual ways of thinking and as a belated ‘gesture of responsibility’ towards her.

“Lost for Words: Embodying Law through Tanztheater”
Miriam Aziz
Abstract: What is the link between dance and the law? In my opinion, dance is also a way of seeing, a way of experiencing life; it is a story-telling device and is as variable as the many reasons why we dance. Both law and dance are theories of language. My interest as a lawyer and as an artist in exploring the link stems from there. To what extent, if at all, does this link enable us to examine the many ways we perceive law as an art of story-telling? What does it have to offer, if anything, about revising ideas about what we mean when we lay claim to translating ideas about social justice into laws? In 2011, I established a performance art laboratory called Artist (s) at Large to explore ideas about law and rule based approaches to creativity as well as copyright and authorship. The lab was also conceived as a creative platform for law teaching, thereby adapting the case-method. On 20 October, I premiered a performance piece called “Lost for Words” at the DiMenna Center with Artist (s) at Large which explored ideas of witness, testimony, truth and reconciliation with and beyond text. This paper places this experience within the context of a research and teaching agenda that is both innovative and imaginative, and has consequences for legal theory, legal practice, scholarship and teaching.

Book Reviews
Julen Etxabe, “The Experience of Tragic Judgment”
Ari Hirvonen    

Ruth Herz, “The Art of Justice: The Judge’s Perspective”
Leslie J Moran, Gary Watt, Linda Mulcahy and David Isaac

Constitution Act

Go to the AIDEL consitution act to know more about the association, its aims and founders

Scientific Board

Prof. Avv. Cristina Costantini

Prof. Matteo Niccolini

Prof. Paola Carbone

Reports of the AIDEL annual conferences

Minutes of the AIDEL annual meeting