UNE scholars Matthew Anderson and Cathrine Frank co-edit new book on 'Teaching Law and Literature'

October 06, 2011

University of New England literary scholars Matthew Anderson and Cathrine Frank, along with Austin Sarat of Amherst College, have co-edited a new book of collected essays, Teaching Law and Literature

Part of the Modern Language Association's series "Options for Teaching," this volume introduces teachers to the theory and history of the law and literature movement and shows how to bring its insights to bear in their classrooms, both in the liberal arts and in law schools.

  • Essays in the first section, "Theory and History of the Movement," provide a retrospective of the field and look forward to new developments.
  • The second section, "Model Courses," offers readers an array of possibilities for structuring courses that integrate legal issues with the study of literature, from The Canterbury Tales to current prison literature. 
  • In "Texts," the third section, guidance is provided for teaching not only written documents (novels, plays, trial reports) but also cultural objects: digital media, Native American ceremonies, documentary theater, hip-hop. The volume's contributors investigate what constitutes law and literature and how each informs the other.

Bringing together 41 teachers from undergraduate institutions and law schools, it is the only volume of its kind to focus on the pedagogical challenges and opportunities within the field.

"The book was a major undertaking - it took five years to complete - and could not have come forward under more auspicious circumstances," Professor Anderson explains. "Publishing it with the Modern Language Association (MLA) means not only that we had the benefit of working with their experienced editorial staff, but also that the volume will reach as many professionals in the field as possible."

The MLA is the professional organization for all professors of literature and languages in the United States with more than 38,000 members.

Leading Center for Law and Humanities

Anderson added that "Cathrine and I  are delighted to have been able to contribute to the field of law and literature in this way, and to continue to build UNE's reputation as a leading center of interdisciplinary research in the field of law and the humanities."

Anderson and Frank are also the co-editors, along with Sarat, of the 2009 book Law and the Humanities: An Introduction, published by Cambridge University Press.

The two of them were awarded a $165,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to hold a 2009 summer institute on "The Rule of Law: Legal Studies and the Liberal Arts" at UNE.

The Editors

Matthew Anderson, Ph.D., is associate professor and chair of the Department of English and Language Studies. His research explores how questions of law and justice are represented in literature, and more broadly, how law engages with the disciplines of the humanities.

Cathrine Frank, Ph.D. is associate professor in the Department of English and Language Studies specializing in Victorian legal history and the English novel. Her book Law, Literature, and the Transmission of Culture in England, 1837-1925 is a book-length study that approaches  the last will and testament as a literary, legal, and cultural mode of bequest. Her current research focuses on the character witness in law and literature.

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