Can you subject the law to literary analysis?

The tools of literary analysis help you submit cultures and texts that form these cultures to rigorous analysis. You can examine the rhetoric, the linguistic structures, etc that makes a text what it is. Can we do the same with law and what would such an examination yield?

  • The word 'slave' was never used in the original 3/5 clause, which says a lot about the culture at the time (I like to consider it a pre cursor to the Gag Rule). – m-cubed 7 years ago
  • I believe the history of Western legal system is forked by dual branches: common vs. civil. Perhaps a good starting point is exploring the different philosophies of civil and common law in the West. From there, analyze and contrast how the legal system is written, reflecting the demands of society and its ideals. – minylee 7 years ago
  • This is a great topic! We definitely see detailed analysis of legal language in some important court rulings. Antoni Scalia's majority opinion in the Supreme Court ruling in DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA v. HELLER (No. 07-290) (https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/07-290.ZO.html) gives a great example of interpreting the language of the law through the lens of linguistic and historical analysis. (I'm not a fan of that particular court ruling, because I would like to see reasonable restrictions on firearm ownership in the US, but I think it is very interesting to see judges wrangling with grammar and linguistic context.) – JamesBKelley 6 years ago

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