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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Law : Law

Postgraduate Course: Rhetoric, Law and Literature (LAWS11289)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Law CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe purpose of this course is to offer students a different way of thinking about law, moving away from the standard focus on formal rules and reasoning, and thinking instead about legal argumentation as an imaginative combination of rhetoric and narrative. There are two main focuses to the course. The first is the history of law as rhetoric, with its central place in Aristotelian philosophy, its subsequent expulsion from the realm of "proper" theory, and its modern rediscovery in the work of scholars such as Cha´m Perelman and Neil MacCormick. The second part of the course looks in more detail at the different aspects of the law and literature movement, focusing in particular on the work of scholars such as James Boyd White, Robin West and Martha Nussbaum. It looks at the way in which both reading literature as law and law as literature can shed light on the uses of rhetoric and narrative in the construction of authority in legal reasoning. It examines the idea that, through understanding the role of narrative in law, and the interaction that this implies between rhetoric, narrative, power and politics, we can enrich our understanding of the ethics of law and legal practice, viewed primarily as a literary endeavour.
Course description Not entered
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
By the end of this course, students should be able to:

Display extensive, detailed and critical knowledge of theories of argumentation and rhetoric and how they relate to law
┐ Critically analyse the history and development of these theories from antiquity to the contemporary setting
┐ Locate theories of rhetoric and argumentation within the broader philosophical context at various stages in their development
┐ Understand the reasons behind the re-emergence of these theories in modern legal theory, and critically evaluate their contemporary articulation

Display a broad and detailed grasp the different elements of the ┐law and literature┐ movement
┐ Display a critical awareness of the role of narrative, metaphor and technique in the construction of authority in legal argument
┐ Analyse and evaluate legal (and other) texts from this perspective
┐ Articulate and defend a theoretical position on the issue of the relations between narrative, rhetoric, power and politics within law and legal practice
┐ Analyse and critically evaluate the ethical implications of these relations

Apply these theories in the context of different legal and literary texts
┐ Identify, unpack and critically evaluate the rhetorical elements of a wide range of texts
┐ Analyse the complex interplay between rational argument and narrative construction in the formulation of legal authority claims

Demonstrate development in key research and communication skills
┐ Demonstrate advanced skills in reading, understanding, and adopting an independent critical position in relation to complex theoretical texts
┐ Articulate and defend these positions, both in detailed written submissions and in discussions with peers and course instructors
┐ Synthesise and combine the different approaches covered in the course, and on this basis develop and defend an independent and original position in relation to key issues in the interrelation of law, politics and ethics
┐ Work autonomously in pursuit of these goals, seeking advice from peers and instructors where necessary, whilst contributing to the common learning experience of the seminar format
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Research and reading skills
Oral and written communication skills
Critical and rhetorical analytical skills
KeywordsLegal theory/philosophy; rhetoric; narrative; literature
Course organiserDr Euan Macdonald
Tel: (0131 6)50 9832
Course secretaryMs Ginny Spencer
Tel: (0131 6)50 9094
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