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Allen Mendenhall

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Shakespeare's Place In Law-And-Literature, Allen P. Mendenhall Dec 2010

Shakespeare's Place In Law-And-Literature, Allen P. Mendenhall

Allen Mendenhall

Nearly every Anglo-American law school offers a course called Law-and-Literature. Nearly all of these courses assign one or more readings from Shakespeare’s oeuvre. Why study Shakespeare in law school? That is the question at the heart of these courses. Some law professors answer the question in terms of cultivating moral sensitivity, fine-tuning close-reading skills, or practicing interpretive strategies on literary rather than legal texts. Most of these professors insist on an illuminating nexus between two supposedly autonomous disciplines. The history of how Shakespeare became part of the legal canon is more complicated than these often defensive, syllabus-justifying declarations allow ...