The Law in Literature: Narratives of Criminal Justice


Spring 2021

M, 6 - 7:30PM, online

Representations of the law in everything from tv shows like “Law and Order” to literary classics like “Crime and Punishment” have shaped public perceptions of the criminal justice system. The influence of literature on the law cannot be understated—novelist and attorney Thane Rosenbaum recently claimed that “Atticus Finch is invoked as a guiding influence more frequently in essays for law school admission than any other factor by far.” In this course, we will examine how the law - particularly the criminal justice system - has been represented in literature across a variety of media formats. We will consider how those representations portray themes like innocence and guilt against the burden of the justice system. Moreover, we will consider how these works interact with the structural prejudices of the system. What, for example, does Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow” tell us about Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird?”

  • Kari Larsen,
  • JP Gritton, English
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