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Law and Literature

Maastricht Summer School
Netherlands, Maastricht
Maastricht Summer School Netherlands, Bonnefantenstraat 2, 611 KL Maastricht, The Netherlands
Tuition fee €400.00 per programme


Law is a fundamental component of society and it also plays an important role in the creation of fictional scenarios within literature. The use of law in literature can serve as an anchor to create a reality that is familiar to readers and enables authors to effectively bridge fiction and reality. Sir Walter Scott, Honoré de Balzac, and Leo Tolstoy, to name a few authors, introduce readers to historical events. They skilfully transport readers to foreign lands and distant times, depicting a certain society during a certain era of time. They also tend to depict the legal aspects of a time that are often essential for their story telling. These authors enrich the genre of historical fiction (eg, epics, novels), a genre that has existed since the time of Ancient Greece.

Students will explore how law is represented in popular literature, understand how it is depicted in fictional time and space, and where possible, compare it with the law that applied in “reality.” Participants will therefore unveil the legal components in seminal novels, and assess the role of those components in the construction of fictional scenarios. Participants will conduct independent historical legal research that will assist in explaining the “real” law that is depicted in fictional scenarios. Contrasting reality and fiction helps to better assess the role of law in popular narrative, and ultimately assists to better identify the place that law occupies in society and in popular culture.

At the end of this course, students will be able to:
▪ Identify and apply the main concepts of the Law and Literature movement.
▪ Acknowledge the development of law in society as reflected in the the genre of historical fiction.
▪ Understand the possible legal narratives behind the fictional writings by seminal authors.
▪ Identify and examine the legal narratives as a means to understand popular culture.

Instruction language

The course is aimed at Bachelor, Master, and PhD students.

Recommended literature
The course coordinator will share a reader with relevant materials on the Law and Literature movement.
Students will work with a novel by an author of their choice.

Teaching methods
Lectures and tutorials.

Assessment methods
Final Paper

Law, literature, history, society

Apply now! Block 8.1 2018/19
Application deadline
Jun 1, 2019 23:59
Europe/Amsterdam time
Studies commence
Aug 19, 2019

Application deadlines apply to citizens of: United States