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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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Proof and Probability

Proof and Probability

Law, Imagination, and the Forms of Things Unknown

(p.144) Chapter 8 Proof and Probability
New Directions in Law and Literature

Lorna Hutson

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the assumption that literature’s imaginative reality for lawyers depends precisely on its lack of “reality” in the sense of legal efficacy or consequence. Turning to the example of English theatre, it argues that we should recognize as an innovative achievement the fact that late sixteenth-century dramatists began to produce plays that created their own self-contained imaginative worlds. This achievement depended on a poetic adaptation of techniques of legal or forensic rhetoric, which privileged the making known, through circumstances, of human motive, or causa. The chapter concludes by suggesting that Shakespeare’s plays, thus imagining times and spaces as forms of proof relating to human “cause” or motive, have enabled us to construe human inwardness in ways which have created new forms of cultural “reality.”

Keywords:   real, law, imagination, belief, theatre, Shakespeare, forensic rhetoric, proof

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