|Semester and Year||SP 2014|
|Time||2:00 PM - 3:15 PM|
In response to the bafflement expressed by Kafka’s hapless Josef K, one of his warders explains that the law is attracted to the guilty. We might adapt this remark to say that the law has been attracted to the novel—and vice versa. From Daniel Defoe to the Jacobin fictions of William Godwin and Mary Hayes to Anthony Trollope, Charles Dickens and the sensation novelists of the nineteenth century, to more recent narratives from Kafka’s Trial to Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians, novels have focused on the ways in which law operates to mediate social relationships, to define public space, to frame questions of justice and injustice. In this course, we’ll engage in a study of the novel as form, while interrogating relations between the novel and the law. By supplementing our readings of novels with theoretical and historical texts and legal cases, we’ll be able to pose some fundamental questions about this strange mutual attraction between law and the novel. Some of our questions: Do novels offer an alternate vision of justice to that posited by law and even a critique of modern legal apparatus? Or do they instead teach people how to understand themselves as legal subjects? Do novels present themselves as law’s supplement in some sense? Or are they always somehow in advance of the law, offering visions of society and the ethical to which law must catch up? Authors studied may include Godwin, Dickens, Eliot, Braddon, Coetzee, and Morrison. We will also consult works by critics and theorists, and perhaps some contemporary popular media narratives.
Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)