Legal themes in literature reflect our fascination with a justice system that sometimes does not appear to be just. Great writers like Shakespeare, Melville, Kafka, among others, ask us to consider what happens when laws are not rational or punishments are unjust. In this interdisciplinary course, we will explore topics related to legal justice, including the difference between the rule of law and equity, the relation between justice and punishment, and the status of justice in an unequal society. In so doing, we will understand how law and literature overlap in their emphasis on storytelling and interpretation, as well as how both cultivate a tolerance for ambiguity and complexity.
Readings: Albert Camus, The Stranger; Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God; Herman Melville, Billy Budd; William Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice
This seminar-style course has limited enrollment to allow small group discussion.