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Common Precedents – The Presentness of the Past in Victorian Law and Fiction - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Common Precedents: The Presentness of the Past in Victorian Law and Fiction

Ayelet Ben-Yishai


Common Precedents argues that precedent constitutes a sophisticated and powerful mechanism for managing social and cultural change and that this quality accounts for its unacknowledged centrality to Victorian culture. Precedential reasoning enables the recognition of the new and its assimilation as part of a continuous past. Through this act of recognition and assimilation, it constructs a sense of a common identity essential to the Victorians. By appearing to bring the past seamlessly into the present, legal precedent became vital to the preservation of a sense of commonality and ... More

Keywords: precedent, legal culture, realist fiction, cultural history, fictionality, commonality, law and literature, social construction, nineteenth-century culture, temporality

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2013 Print ISBN-13: 9780199937646
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199937646.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Ayelet Ben-Yishai, author
University of Haifa