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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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Legal and Literary Fictions

Legal and Literary Fictions

(p.313) Chapter 18 Legal and Literary Fictions
New Directions in Law and Literature

Simon Stern

Oxford University Press

The term “legal fiction” is often used for doctrines that make the law’s image of the world seem distorted or bizarre. On this view, corporate personhood and civil death are fictional because of their narrative potential: the outlandish premise might yield some as yet unknown result. However, this narrative potential is an ordinary feature of all legal doctrines. If legal fictions resemble literary fictions, that kinship owes more to the ways in which both fictional modes solicit a particular kind of attention than to a shared ability to spin out narrative arrays. To develop these ideas, this chapter considers the doctrine of copyright misuse, the question of whether steamboats are floating inns, the concept of “unnatural narrative” in literary scholarship, and Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain (1917).

Keywords:   legal fictions, narrative, corporate personhood, coverture, truth in fiction, hypothetical, causality, legal language

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