SOME AUTHORS, NOVELS, EVENTS AND PERSONS FOR LAW AND THE HUMANITIES RESEARCH
NB: Hypertext links are just samples of what is available on the web for authors mentioned. Many more resources exist in traditional format (paper) for all topics.
AUTHORS AND NOVELS
Studying the images of law and justice in one particular author or work (or film, or painting, for example) is one of the simplest ways to begin research in the area of law and the humanities.
While some authors, William Shakespeare and William Faulkner, for example, remain perennially popular as subjects for term papers and scholarly articles, a number of authors have been studied only briefly or not at all. Some authors and their works are listed here as possible fresh topics for research.
Sara Woods, Henry Wade, Cyril Hare, and Leo Bruce all
offer the researcher the opportunity to investigate stories and writers who have so far
escaped much notice despite the quality of their work. Woods' specialty is the courtroom
thriller and the contrast between morality and law. Wade, Bruce and Hare are all
"Golden Age" novelists. Henry Cecil also writes courtroom or legal
"thrillers", in the sense that his protagonists are frequently lawyers or
judges, but his interest is in the difference between law and justice. Yet another English
writer, Michael Gilbert, specializes in courtroom
novels or "legal thrillers".
Used with permission
Other authors who include a great deal of law in their mystery novels include Sarah Caudwell, whose androgynous sleuth Hilary Tamar is a barrister, John Mortimer, who writes the Rumpole of the Bailey novels, and lawyer-novelists such as John Grisham, Scott Turow, Richard North Patterson, Marisa Piesman, and Nancy Taylor Rosenberg. Linda Fairstein, the NY ADA who prosecuted the Central Park Jogger case, has also committed pen to paper with her Alex Cooper mystery series. An interesting study might be done of the similarities and differences among practicing lawyers or law professors who also write mystery fiction and legal thrillers: see Alan Dershowitz, with his novel The Advocate's Devil, Michael Kahn and Lia Matera.
Another kind of fiction that often makes use of legal themes is generally referred to as romance fiction. As yet unexplored topics in the area of romantic fiction and law include the image of lawyers in romance fiction, family law (especially divorce and domestic violence) in romance fiction and criminal law (particularly murder) in romance fiction. Resources available on this website that deal with romance fiction and law include the Romantic Fiction and Romantic Suspense Page. The depictions of legal systems and legal issues in these novels are not necessarily accurate; however, what is interesting is the perception of the impact of law on an individual's life.
See also General Mystery Categories (this website) and the online bookstore Lawyer Briefs, which specializes in legal thrillers and works in association with Amazon.com, for an easy way to identify books in the legal thriller category. Lawyer Briefs also features articles about fictional lawyers, for example Philadelphia Lawyers and How About Those Law Clerks?
PERSONS AND EVENTS
Another interesting subject might be the treatment of law in a real court case and in its fictional counterpart, as in the case of films about real events and people like the Nuremberg and Tokyo War Crimes Tribunals, the Amistad Case, the Scottsboro Boys case, the Lizzie Borden case, and the trial of Joan of Arc.
For example, in considering the historical trial of Joan of Arc, one might consider the rules of procedure used in the trial, whether it was primarily a religious or a political trial, the circumstances surrounding the trial, the legitimate objections of the prosecution to Joan's activities, and the French throne's responsibility for her fate. In considering her portrayal in fiction and film, what facets of Joan's life or personality seem most significantly legally and politically? How does George Bernard Shaw's view of Joan (Saint Joan) differ from Jean Anouilh's view in his play L'Alouette? What about Joan as a character in Shakespeare's Henry VI? As a related issue, what constitutes "treason" in the work? Does "treason" during the period mean the same thing as it does today? Are Shaw and Anouilh giving "treason" a connotation that resonates more with today's ideas of loyalty and patriotism? For some helpful background readings see Dana L. Sample, ORB: The Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies: Bibliography: Late Medieval France.