Humanizing the Law

HON 298 - Professor Maryann Rossi

Modes of Inquiry: Textual Analysis, Historical, Social and Cultural Analysis

Course Description:

We live in a society of laws. The American Revolution itself was both legal and political in its arguments. Our society is steeped in English Common Law based upon traditional concepts of justice and precedents. We adhere to laws passed by legislatures. As such, our literature reflects our society. As Americans, we often equate right and wrong with legal and illegal. They are not necessarily the same. For instance, in Billy Budd, Melville suggests there is an eternal conflict between good and evil. In Kluger’s Simple Justice, laws that mitigate against participation in society and persist into the twentieth century will also be examined. In a global society, there are enormous cultural challenges. The ability to understand the various discourses and their relationships to one another (i.e. law, literature, art, human rights) helps to respond to these challenges.

All of the works of literature selected for this course have also been made into movies, and we will take advantage of the added dimension and dramatic look provided by films. We will compare and contrast the literature with the statements and interpretations being made in the movies.