JJUA54070U Law and Literature

Volume 2016/2017

“Law and literature” has become a widely established field of study in law schools throughout the United States and Europe. Literature presents an alternative way of thinking about the law - one that is synthetic, creative, and comfortable with ambiguity and ambivalence. Learning to read and interpret works of literature helps make you a better lawyer – for example, by providing new and deeper understandings of the law and by providing an awareness of the power of rhetoric in legal argument. This course will explore our understanding of law and the way it shapes our consciousness of ourselves and our society by reading selected works of Western literature through a lawyer’s eyes. It will provide an opportunity to think about the law in a new way from a humanistic and philosophical perspective and to read engaging works of fiction that shape our vision of the law and were shaped by actual legal dilemmas. In addition, we will be reading legal opinions that grapple with issues raised by our discussion of these works of art.

The course will examine in depth the following works of literature, focusing on the issues of law and legal advocacy they raise: Sophocles, Antigone, William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Herman Melville, Billy Budd, Franz Kafka, The Trial, Robert Bolt, A Man for All Seasons, and Albert Camus, The Stranger. Various critical readings of each of these works will also be examined. Students must participate in discussions and debates on the implications the texts raise for legal interpretation and legal advocacy. In addition, students will also be required to read relevant case law grappling with legal issues similar to those raised by these works and apply insights gained from those works in their analysis of those cases.

Learning Outcome

- Identify and explain legal issues raised by the course texts;
- Identify and explain legal advocacy issues raised by the course texts;
- Put into perspective and participate in critical thinking about legal issues through the format of the course texts; - Analyze various notions related to law and legal advocacy, such as the nature of law, the characteristics of justice, and the duties of the advocate;
- Engage in advocacy with respect to a particular legal position through the format of the course texts; Communicate and formulate his/her knowledge and familiarity with various modes of argumentation in an advocacy context;
- Become familiar with and put into perspective different historical views of the role of law and advocacy in Western civilization; and
- Improve written and oral advocacy skills in English.

Sophocles, Antigone, William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Herman Melville, Billy Budd, Franz Kafka, The Trial, Robert Bolt, A Man for All Seasons, and Albert Camus, The Stranger . Reading will also include materials assembled by the instructors.

Required readings cover approximately 500 pages.

Good knowledge of the English language is a requirement, not only for oral discussion but for reading the material
The course will also offer students for whom English is a second language an opportunity to improve their English-language skills by engaging in challenging discussions on works and topics to which they might not otherwise be exposed. Students are required to participate in class discussions. Final grades will be determined by a written final paper and an oral exam based on the paper.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 241
  • Seminar
  • 34
  • Total
  • 275
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 min
Oral exam based on synopsis, 20 minutes
Exam registration requirements

In order to attend the oral examination, it is a prerequisite to hand in the synopsis before the specified deadline.
The deadline is agreed upon with the course lecturer.

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Exam period

December 19 - 23, 2016 (preliminary dates)


Please see "Academic calendar" on KUnet.