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School of Law

LAW6174 Law Stories

Stories about law abound in our culture. We watch courtroom dramas, police procedurals, and documentaries exposing the inner workings of the justice system on TV. We read true crime books and listen to podcasts, and avidly follow blow-by-blow accounts of the trials of Oscar Pistorius or Elizabeth Holmes. The lure of law stories is enduring – though the stories we tell change from place to place and time to time. Law stories are more than entertainment – they are often overtly political; think of the way law featured in Steve McQueen’s Small Axe series (2020), or Peter Wildeblood’s Against the Law, a memoir of his imprisonment for homosexual acts in the 1950s. 

On the Law Stories module you will study works of popular fiction and non-fiction like these in order to explore the following questions:

  1. Why have stories about law and legal institutions so captivated societies at different times and in different places? What sorts of stories have proved most compelling, most enduring, and most controversial?
  2. How are law stories told? What narrative techniques are used? What audiences are addressed? We will study techniques including focalization, framing, voice, temporality, defamiliarization, and the politics of representation, drawing on narrative theory, media studies, and cultural studies to do so.

Students get a say in choosing the works we study, which will form the basis of their coursework essays. These are supported by personalized feedback and a preparatory workshop. All are welcome – no experience or expert knowledge needed.

Mode of assessment

  • 100% Coursework - 5000-word essay

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