English 120 - Spring, 2018

Law & Literature

Class Information

Instructor: Hsu, Hsuan
CRN: 81968
Time: MWF 11:00-11:50
Location: 115 Wellman


    This course will cover influential concepts, methods, and literary examples in the interdisciplinary field of legal-literary studies. Reading landmark U.S. legal cases alongside works of literature and legal-literary criticism, we will consider how jurists and authors deploy literary language to produce, sustain, and critique the law. Among the questions we will consider will be: how do concepts such as personhood, race, property, citizenship, and criminality depend on figurative language and “common-sense” narratives? what kinds of historical experience and counternarratives are obscured by legal codes and procedures? how have authors used poetry and narrative to challenge the workings of the law?


    participation and reading quizzes: 20%
    short writing assignments: 15%
    short paper (4 pgs) 15%
    longer paper (7-9 pgs) 30%
    final exam 20%


    Life and Adventures of Joaquin Murieta, John Rollin Ridge
    Our Nig, Harriet Wilson
    Pudd'nhead Wilson, Mark Twain
    Revolt of the Cockroach People, Oscar Zeta Acosta
    The Round House , Louise Erdrich
    from unincorporated territory, Craig Santos Perez