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New Directions in Law and Literature$
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Elizabeth S. Anker and Bernadette Meyler

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190456368

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190456368.001.0001

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Law as Performance

Law as Performance

Historical Interpretation, Objects, Lexicons, and Other Methodological Problems

Chapter:
(p.193) Chapter 11 Law as Performance
Source:
New Directions in Law and Literature
Author(s):

Julie Stone Peters

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190456368.003.0012

This chapter starts from the view that legal performance matters to law: its outcomes, doctrines, and history. Here, rather than defending that view (a task undertaken elsewhere), it analyzes the methodological issues that arise from it. Distinguishing performances—expressive, embodied legal events, and practices—from both literary and legal texts (the traditional objects of law and literature), it assesses the vexed words “performance” and “performativity” as analytic tools, set against the rich historical lexicon. It then distinguishes “law in performance” and “law of performance” from “law as performance,” arguing that analysis of more familiar interpretive objects (aesthetic performances, legal texts) cannot substitute for sustained attention to legal events and practices. Finally, it briefly outlines some paradigms for understanding legal performance: legal conjuration, enactment, or mimesis; legal surrogation (metaphoric, metonymic, or indexical); and legal theatricality-antitheatricality.

Keywords:   law, performance, theatricality, performativity, history, literature, methodology

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