Interpreting Law and Literature: A Hermeneutic Reader

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From the Preface:

"Contemporary theory has usefully analyzed how alternative modes of interpretation produce different meanings, how reading itself is constituted by the variable perspectives of readers, and how these perspectives are in turn defined by prejudices, ideologies, interests, and so forth. Some theorists gave argued persuasively that textual meaning, in literature and in literary interpretation, is structured by repression and forgetting, by what the literary or critical text does not say as much as by what it does. All these claims are directly relevant to legal hermeneutics, and thus it is no surprise that legal theorists have recently been turning to literary theory for potential insight into the interpretation of law. This collection of essays is designed to represent the especially rich interactive that has taken place between legal and literary hermeneutics during the past ten years."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810107939
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1988
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 502
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Sanford Levinson, Professor of Law at the University of Texas, is the co-author of Processes of Constitutional Decision Making.

Steven Mailloux, Professor of English at Syracuse University, is the author of Interpretive Conventions: The Reader in the Study of American Fiction and Rhetorical Power.

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Table of Contents


SECTION I. Politics and Interpretive Theory

William J. Brennan, Jr.
The Constitution of the United States: Contemporary Ratification

Edwin Meese III
Address Before the D. C. Chapter of the Federalist Society Lawyers Division

SECTION II. The Question of Method

(A) Intentionalism
Charles Fried
Sonnet LXV and the "Black Ink" of the Framers' Intention

Philip Martin 
["On Sonnet LXV"]

E. D. Hirsch, Jr.
Counterfactuals in Interpretation

Paul Brest
The Misconceived Quest for the Original Understanding

H. Jefferson Powell
James Madison's Theory of Constitutional Interpretation

Michael Hancher
Dead Letters: Wills and Poems

Kenneth S. Abraham
Statutory Interpretation and Literary Theory: Some Common Concerns of an Unlikely Pair

(B) Formalism
Frederick Schauer
An Essay on Constitutional Language

Sanford Levinson
Law as Literature

Gerald Graff
Keep off the Grass, Drop Dead, and Other Indeterminacies: A Response to Sanford Levinson

Richard Weisberg
On the Use and Abuse of Nietzsche for Modern Constitutional Theory

Mark V. Tushnet
Following the Rules Laid Down: A Critique of Interpretivism and Neutral Principles

Walter Benn Michaels
Against Formalism: Chickens and Rocks

(C) Objectivity
Owen M. Fiss
Objectivity and Interpretation

Stanley Fish
Fish v. Fiss

Jessica Lane
The Poetics of Legal Interpretation

Clare Dalton
An Essay in the Deconstruction of Contract Doctrine

David Couzens Hoy
Interpreting the Law: Hermeneutical and Poststructuralist Perspectives

SECTION III. Rhetorical Politics

Steven Mailloux
Rhetorical Hermeneutics

Philip Bobbitt
From Constitutional Fate: Theory of the Constitution

Walter Benn Michaels
The Fate of the Constitution

James Boyd White
Judicial Criticism


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