Law, Literature, and Therapeutic Jurisprudence

by Amy D. Ronner

Tags: Jurisprudence, Literature, Literature and Law

Table of Contents (PDF)

320 pp  $47.00

ISBN 978-1-59460-637-3

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This book explores the affinity between the Law and Literature and Therapeutic Jurisprudence movements. Law and Literature focuses on the analysis and criticism of literary works that have legal themes, portray lawyers, or depict legal practice. It also employs techniques and theories of literary criticism to aid the interpretation of literary texts, particularly judicial decisions. Therapeutic Jurisprudence integrates psychology, mental health, and other related enterprises to enrich and shape the law. It seeks to humanize the law by concerning itself with the human, emotional, and psychological aspects of the legal process. Both interdisciplinary movements celebrate humanity, welcome moral and ethical justice, encourage story telling, and tutor us in the idiom of empathetic kindness.

The five chapters of this book put Herman Melville, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Arthur Miller, W.H. Hudson, and other literary masters under a Therapeutic Jurisprudence lens and suggests that all of these literary masters are, at least implicitly, concerned with therapeutic justice. Chapter One, introducing Law and Literature and Therapeutic Jurisprudence, suggests how the two movements can symbiotically effectuate common goals. Chapter Two applies law, literature, and therapeutic jurisprudence to criminal procedure and shows how this sheds new light on certain protections that the Constitution accords individuals accused of crime. Chapter Three applies law, literature, and therapeutic jurisprudence to witch hunts, ones fueled by irrational fear and discrimination, and also delves into a present day witch hunt — homophobia — which pulverizes individuals in their daily lives. Chapter Four applies law, literature, and therapeutic jurisprudence to legal education and law practice itself. It suggests how educators can use literature and therapeutic jurisprudence to improve their interactions with students and train them to demand and build healthy, happy, and rewarding careers. Chapter Five summarizes how Law and Literature plus Therapeutic jurisprudence can become a multidisciplinary perspective that can help us understand and tap into the loving, empathic, and healing forces in not just our legal system, but in our daily lives as well.

"Are lawyers doomed to rank lower than politicians and used car salesmen in public opinion polls? Has the law lost its chance of being a noble and fulfilling calling? Not if Professor Ronner has anything to say about it! Her revolutionary new book shows how the synthesis of two fields of jurisprudence — Law & Literature and Therapeutic Jurisprudence—has the potential to transform the way we teach, think about, and practice the law. Ranging skillfully from Billy Budd to The Crucible, from the Carnegie Report to the latest gay adoption cases, Professor Ronner demonstrates how the combination of Law & Literature plus Therapeutic Jurisprudence equals new hope for the legal profession." — Lenora Ledwon, J.D., Ph.D., Professor of Law, St. Thomas University; Author of Law and Literature: Text and Theory

"Law, Literature, and Therapeutic Jurisprudence is a 'must read' not only for all lawyers, judges, and law professors, but also for anyone who simply yearns to explore a new, creative, multi-disciplinary universe. Dr. Ronner shows us how therapeutic jurisprudence can serve as our lens to help us analyze works by great authors and to embrace the healing potential of our legal system and the world around us." — David B. Wexler, Professor of Law and Director of the International Network on Therapeutic Jurisprudence at the University of Puerto Rico

"Combining perceptive analysis and legal wisdom, Ronner identifies Dostoevsky as an early advocate of therapeutic justice. With insightful reading, Ronner explores practices such as confession not only as prosecutorial tools but as catalysts to healing and rehabilitation. While Dostoevsky shows that voluntary participation in the judicial process has therapeutic value for fictional offenders, Ronner shows its transformative potential for contemporary ones. Ronner will inspire many with her impressive application of literature to law!" — Deborah A. Martinsen, Ph.D., President of the International Dostoevsky Society; Associate Dean of Alumni Education and Adjunct Associate Professor of Slavic Studies, Columbia University

"This book extends Therapeutic Jurisprudence into a new realm. It shows how this interdisciplinary movement can be a valuable tool for analyzing literature and stimulating the legal imagination by applying law, literature, and therapeutic jurisprudence to criminal procedure, human rights, legal education, and law practice. It not only gives us insight into great writers, such as Fyodor Dostoevsky, Herman Melville, Arthur Miller, and W. H. Hudson, but also shows how they are kindred spirits, concerned with the healing and rehabilitative potential of justice and legal systems." — Bruce J. Winick, Silvers and Rubenstein Distinguished Professor of Law; Director, Therapeutic Jurisprudence Center; Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Miami

"This is a brilliant fusion of legal scholarship and literary criticism, both of which are informed by penetrating analyses and application of the principles of therapeutic jurisprudence. This is the most interesting new legal book I have read this year." — Michael L. Perlin, Professor at New York Law School; Director of Mental Disability Law Reform Project; Director of Online Mental Disability Law Program

"Not only is [Ronner] thoroughly versed in the subject matter, but she also understands the challenges facing the American legal system today. … Throughout she provides a powerful argument for fully integrating aspects of therapeutic jurisprudence and the study of literature into the law school curriculum." — The Law and Politics Book Review

"In short, Law, Literature, and Therapeutic Jurisprudence presents an insightful and refreshing take on the potential for law and literature and TJ to better the practice and study of law. It is one of those rare reads that is simultaneously informative, intellectually stimulating, and enjoyable. Because of its broad appeal, it is highly recommended for all law school, government, undergraduate, and public libraries." — Law Library Journal