The essays in this volume on the intersections of law and literature examine the role of the passions in English law and legal thought at a time when modern conceptions of jurisprudence and patterns of legislation were beginning to coalesce. “Passions,” which were alternately construed as pathos, emotion, feeling, sentimentalism, sensibility, and social obligation, found their way into the legal discourse of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, despite claims that rationality characterizes the law. In this collection, scholars of the law and literature movement consider the place of the passions in legal texts and constitutional developments, and, correspondingly, explore the engagement of literature with legal thought to disclose the function of emotion in both the theory and practice of the law. The historical period covered in this collection begins in the 1760s with the publication of Sir William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, the first descriptive overview and justification of the English legal system, and ends in 1848, a year of constitutional crisis in Britain and revolution abroad. During this span of time, in which modern English jurisprudence is taking shape and becoming part of the public discourse, we find a deepening reaffirmation of the role of the passions in the law; indeed, emotion is recognized as crucial to the cohesion of a social contract and the legal system that protects both property and liberty.
About the Author
Nancy E. Johnson is associate professor of English and Chair of the English Department at the State University of New York at New Paltz.
Table of Contents
Introduction by Nancy E. Johnson
Chapter 1: Blackstone’s Legal Actors: The Passions of a Rational Jurist by Simon Stern
Chapter 2: Narrative Sentiment in Adam Smith’s Lectures on Jurisprudence by Nancy E. Johnson
Chapter 3: ‘How Like You the Eloquence of a Young Barrister?: Love and the Law in Boswell’s Development as a Writer in the Late 1760s by J.T. Scanlan
Chapter 4: Freedom and Fetters: Nuptial Law in Burney’s The Wanderer by Melissa J. Ganz
Chapter 5: Doubled Jeopardy: The Condemned Woman as Historical Relic by Erin Sheley
Chapter 6: The Madness of Sovereignty: George III and the Known Unknown of Torture by Peter de Bolla
Chapter 7: The Great Dramatist: Macaulay and the English Constitution by Ian Ward
Appendix: Timeline of Selected Legal Publications, Legislation and Events
Notes on Contributors