20-21 October 2016: David Skeel on “The Tradition of Law and Literature”

Dear students,

as you know, this week’s classes will take place (exceptionally) on Thursday and Friday. Prof. David Skeel will introduce us to the history of law and literature scholarship in the United States, and consider the prospects of this movement for the future. He will focus in particular on three recent strands of law and literature scholarship, which are often referred to as 1) law as language (associated with James Boyd White); 2) literature as empathy (associated with Robin West and Martha Nussbaum) and 3) law and narrative (associated with Patricia Williams).

Suggested Readings:
D.A. Skeel, Lawrence Joseph and Law and Literature, in “University of Cincinnati Law Review”, 77.3 (2009), pp. 921-939.


Prof. David Skeel’s CV:
David A. Skeel is currently the S. Samuel Arsht Professor of Corporate Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School (2004-), after having been Associate Professor of Law at the Temple University School of Law (1993- 1998) and Professor of Law at University of Pennsylvania Law School (1999- 2003) .
He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina (B.A. 1983) and the University of Virginia (J.D. 1987). His poems have appeared in Boulevard, Kansas Quarterly and elsewhere. He has written on law and literature or related issues for Columbia Law Review, Michigan Law Review, Legal Affairs, Wallace Stevens Journal, Philadelphia Inquirer, and other publications; and he served as an advisory editor of Boulevard in the 1990s.
He also is the author of two books:
– Icarus in the Boardroom: The Fundamental Flaws in Corporate America and Where They Came From (Oxford U. Press, 2005)
– Debt’s Dominion: A History of Bankruptcy Law in America (Princeton University Press, 2001) .
In 1999 & 2002 he received the Harvey Levin Award for Excellence in Teaching and in 2004 the Lindback Award (university-wide “Great Teacher” award).

For a complete overview on Prof. Skeel’s CV and his extensive list of publications see:


One thought on “20-21 October 2016: David Skeel on “The Tradition of Law and Literature”

  1. Knox Chen says:

    As Prof. Skeel mentioned, James Boyd White was the pioneer of law and literature movement, who put forward the idea of “law as language”, developed the hermeneutical strand. It was a rather new concept at that time, however, aroused much attention from legal and literary scholars. It was rather fascinating how lawyers and Judges came to realize the beauty and strength of their writings. I’m particularly impressed with this perceptive and courageous scholar who set foot in this brand new area of study. Also, Prof.Skeel talked about “empathy”, as well as “narrative”. These perspectives gave Law a much broader meaning and much more profound implications. There was intense discussion during the lecture, giving all of us a deeper understanding of law and literature, justice, and life itself.

    —- Knox Chen


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