The intersections of law and contemporary culture are vital for comprehending the meaning and significance of law in today’s world. Far from being unsophisticated mass entertainment, comics and graphic fiction both imbue our contemporary culture, and are themselves imbued, with the concerns of law and justice. Accordingly, and spanning a wide variety of approaches and topics from an international array of contributors, Graphic Justice draws comics and graphic fiction into the range of critical resources available to the academic study of law. The first book to do this, Graphic Justice broadens our understanding of law and justice as part of our human world—a world that is inhabited not simply by legal concepts and institutions alone, but also by narratives, stories, fantasies, images, and other cultural articulations of human meaning. Engaging with key legal issues (including copyright, education, legal ethics, biomedical regulation, and legal personhood) and exploring critical issues in criminal justice and perspectives on international rights, law and justice—all through engagement with comics and graphic fiction—the collection showcases the vast breadth of potential that the medium holds. Graphic Justice will be of interest to academics and postgraduate students in: cultural legal studies; law and the image; law, narrative and literature; law and popular culture; cultural criminology; as well as cultural and comics studies more generally.
The proposed volumes are aimed at a multidisciplinary audience and seek to fill the gap between law, semiotics and visuality providing a comprehensive theoretical and analytical overview of legal visual semiotics. They seek to promote an interdisciplinary debate from law, semiotics and visuality bringing together the cumulative research traditions of these related areas as a prelude to identifying fertile avenues for research going forward. Advance Praise for Law, Culture and Visual Studies This diverse and exhilarating collection of essays explores the many facets both historical and contemporary of visual culture in the law. It opens a window onto the substantive, jurisdictional, disciplinary and methodological diversity of current research. It is a cornucopia of materials that will enliven legal studies for those new to the field as well as for established scholars. It is a ‘must read’ that will leave you wondering about the validity of the long held obsession that reduces the law and legal studies to little more than a preoccupation with the word. Leslie J Moran Professor of Law, Birkbeck College, University of London Law, Culture & Visual Studies is a treasure trove of insights on the entwined roles of legality and visuality. From multiple interdisciplinary perspectives by scholars from around the world, these pieces reflect the fullness and complexities of our visual encounters with law and culture. From pictures to places to postage stamps, from forensics to film to folklore, this anthology is an exciting journey through the fertile field of law and visual culture as well as a testament that the field has come of age. Naomi Mezey, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C., USA This highly interdisciplinary reference work brings together diverse fields including cultural studies, communication theory, rhetoric, law and film studies, legal and social history, visual and legal theory, in order to document the various historical, cultural, representational and theoretical links that bind together law and the visual. This book offers a breath-taking range of resources from both well-established and newer scholars who together cover the field of law’s representation in, interrogation of, and dialogue with forms of visual rhetoric, practice, and discourse. Taken together this scholarship presents state of the art research into an important and developing dimension of contemporary legal and cultural inquiry. Above all, Law Culture and Visual Studies lays the groundwork for rethinking the nature of law in our densely visual culture: How are legal meanings produced, encoded, distributed, and decoded? What critical and hermeneutic skills, new or old, familiar or unfamiliar, will be needed? Topical, diverse, and enlivening, Law Culture and Visual Studies is a vital research tool and an urgent invitation to further critical thinking in the areas so well laid out in this collection. Desmond Manderson, Future Fellow, ANU College of Law / Research School of Humanities & the Arts, Australian National University, Australia
The Dred Scott case is the most notorious example of slaves suing for freedom. Most examinations of the case focus on its notorious verdict, and the repercussions that the decision set off-especially the worsening of the sectional crisis that would eventually lead to the Civil War-were extreme. In conventional assessment, a slave losing a lawsuit against his master seems unremarkable. But in fact, that case was just one of many freedom suits brought by slaves in the antebellum period; an example of slaves working within the confines of the U.S. legal system (and defying their masters in the process) in an attempt to win the ultimate prize: their freedom. And until Dred Scott, the St. Louis courts adhered to the rule of law to serve justice by recognizing the legal rights of the least well-off. For over a decade, legal scholar Lea VanderVelde has been building and examining a collection of more than 300 newly discovered freedom suits in St. Louis. In Redemption Songs, VanderVelde describes twelve of these never-before analyzed cases in close detail. Through these remarkable accounts, she takes readers beyond the narrative of the Dred Scott case to weave a diverse tapestry of freedom suits and slave lives on the frontier. By grounding this research in St. Louis, a city defined by the Antebellum frontier, VanderVelde reveals the unique circumstances surrounding the institution of slavery in westward expansion. Her investigation shows the enormous degree of variation among the individual litigants in the lives that lead to their decision to file suit for freedom. Although Dred Scott's loss is the most widely remembered, over 100 of the 300 St. Louis cases that went to court resulted in the plaintiff's emancipation. Beyond the successful outcomes, the very existence of these freedom suits helped to reshape the parameters of American slavery in the nation's expansion. Thanks to VanderVelde's thorough and original research, we can hear for the first time the vivid stories of a seemingly powerless group who chose to use a legal system that was so often arrayed against them in their fight for freedom from slavery.