Writing About the Law (Roosevelt)
R 4:30PM - 6:30PM
Silverman Hall M28
Lawyers are paid to tell their clients’ stories. Being a good storyteller—understanding pace, characterization and narrative structure—is in some ways as important as understanding procedure or substantive law. One can gain legal knowledge from books, but storytelling takes practice. The first aim of this class, then, is to hone storytelling skills, to learn how to present a compelling narrative. But fiction teaches us more than just technique. A good story or novel challenges our sense of the world and of our part in it. What is it to be human? What makes people love or cease to love? What causes people to step over society’s limits, to step outside the law? Why do people invoke the law against others, and why do people dread and fear that law will be used against them? What is the meaning of this omnipresent human construct, and why does something that at its base is imaginary take on such a terrifying force in society? The second aim of this course is to expose students to the fictional answers offered by some published writers and, more important, to offer them a chance to think about and express their own conclusions about life. Third, knowledge of fiction—how it achieves its effects, what it aims for, how it succeeds or fails—is an important piece of general knowledge. It is my hope that this course will add to your enjoyment of reading novels and stories and so deepen the general education that is very important to lawyers if they are to fulfill their traditional role as members of a learned profession.
English fluency is a requirement for this course. You need not be a native speaker, but the skills the course seeks to develop require a mastery of English grammar as a base on which to build.
Perspectives on the Law Learning outcomes: Demonstrate an understanding of how the law affects, and is affected by, the individual course topic; Perform legal analysis in the context of the individual course topic; Communicate effectively on the legal and other aspects of the individual course topic; Demonstrate the ability to use other disciplines to analyze legal issues relevant to the individual course topic, including economics, philosophy, and sociology, as appropriate.
"Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft" by Janet Burroway, Elizabeth Stuckey-French, Ned Stuckey-French