Challenging Words

Date & time
8.30am Thursday 3 November – 6pm Friday 4 November 2016

Phillipa Weeks Staff Library

ANU College of Law, Fellows Road, The Australian National University

Professor Zenon Bankowski
Professor Desmond Manderson


For interstate visitors, we offer suggestions for accommodation near ANU.

Dorota Gozdecka
Event image
'The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters' by Goya, 1799

An inspiring and original event


I enjoyed this SO MUCH! In fact it reinspired me and reminded me why I am so interested in interdisciplinary study of law and the humanities.


It was beneficial, fun, thought-provoking, breaks down boundaries, opens up new connections, enriches our understanding of law.

The workshop

Our workshop aimed to challenge the preponderance of words in legal education and address the growing need to think about law in a setting that is highly influenced by images, visual media and technological progress utilising different means of perception. This two day event brought together prominent scholars in the field of law and the humanities, including the architect of the original ‘Beyond Words’ workshop in Edinburgh, Professor Zen Bankowski, to immerse the participants in non-textual experience of law.

Participants not only explored concepts and theories relating law to art and music, but produced aesthetic outputs including images, cartoons and collages. The workshop created a unique space for renewing and expanding legal education and furthering the interest in the role of law in the society. It encouraged participants to challenge their textual understanding of law, creating ‘deeper, more nuanced understanding or appreciation of the moral aspects of the law’.


  • Professor Zenon Bankowski »

    Educated at the Universities of Dundee (LL.B in Law and Philosophy 1969) and the University of Glasgow (Advanced Study Scholar) Zenon taught at University of Wales, University College Cardiff (Lecturer in Law 1971-1974) and then at the Faculty of Law in Edinburgh (successively, Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader, and Professor of Legal Theory 1994- 2011).

    He is now an emeritus professor but still engaged in research. His research examines Social and Legal Theory within an ethical and theological context. Here the aim is to produce a socio-theoretical account of forms of rationality in different styles and levels of legal process understood in their correlation with different forms of social order and self-ordering. He also looks at the role of such emotions as compassion, mercy, hope and love play in exchange and legal institutions in general, as contrasted with the rationalizing features of the market and law. Zenon lead the original Beyond Words workshop at the University of Edinburgh.

  • Professor Desmond Manderson »

    Professor Desmond Manderson is an international leader in interdisciplinary scholarship in law and the humanities. He is the author of several books including From Mr Sin to Mr Big (1993); Songs Without Music: Aesthetic dimensions of law and justice (2000); Proximity, Levinas, and the Soul of Law (2006); and Kangaroo Courts and the Rule of Law—The legacy of modernism (2012). His work has led to essays, books, and lectures around the world in the fields of English literature, philosophy, ethics, history, cultural studies, music, human geography, and anthropology, as well as in law and legal theory. Throughout this work Manderson has articulated a vision in which law's connection to these humanist disciplines is critical to its functioning, its justice, and its social relevance.

    After ten years at McGill University in Montreal, where he held the Canada Research Chair in Law and Discourse, and was founding Director of the Institute for the Public Life of Arts and Ideas, he returned to Australia to take up a Future Fellowship in the ANU College of Law and ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences.

  • Dr Dorota Gozdecka »

    Dorota is a Senior Lecturer at the ANU College of Law and an Adjunct Professor in Legal Theory at the University of Helsinki. She was previously working at the University of Helsinki both as a doctoral student, post-doctoral researcher and a senior researcher focusing on the topics of otherness in law. She has also held visiting fellowships at the University of California Berkeley, European University Institute and the ANU.

    She has developed her interest in law and humanities during her PhD studies in Helsinki. She has engaged students in creative exercises examining the intersections of law and humanities during her Law and Culture lectures that she held at the University of Helsinki. Her research focus dealing with the topics of identity, otherness and belonging has prompted her to explore legal dilemmas in ways that encourage ethical thinking. For this purpose she has employed her experience with visual arts. 8 years of experience as a theatre director, has encouraged Dorota to examined diverse ways of approaching law with the help of visual and improvisatory tools. 


  • Dr Luis Gómez Romero »

    Luis Gómez Romero joined the School of Law at the University of Wollongong in June 2013. Prior to this, Luis developed a postdoctoral research project at the Institute for the Public Life of Arts and Ideas (IPLAI) at McGill University (Montreal, Canada). While at McGill, Luis co-edited with Ian Dahlman a special issue of Law Text Culture (volume 16, 2012) that addressed comics as a distinct source of legal theory and legal ideology.

    In 2009, Luis finished his PhD. in Jurisprudence at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid with a dissertation titled “Fantasía, Distopía y Justicia: La Saga de Harry Potter como Instrumento para la Enseñanza de los Derechos Humanos” (“Fantasy, Dystopia and Justice: Harry Potter's saga as an Instrument for Teaching Human Rights”). His dissertation was published and recognized with an award by the Spanish Youth Institute for its importance regarding the needs and reality of Spanish youth.


  • Dr James Parker »

    James Parker is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Melbourne Law School. Prior to that he completed his BA in Jurisprudence at University College, Oxford, an LLM by research at McGill University, and a PhD at the Melbourne Law School. His research focuses on the relations between law and sound, with a particular emphasis on international criminal law and the law of war. He is currently a junior faculty member at the Harvard Law School Instititue for Global Law and Policy Workshop and has previously taught at the University of Wollongong, the University of Technology Sydney and Macquarie University as well as on the Law School's Masters programme.

    James' forthcoming book Acoustic Jurisprudence: Listening to the Trial of Simon Bikindi (OUP 2015) explores the trial of Simon Bikindi, who was accused by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda of inciting genocide with his songs.

Additional Materials

Past Sessions

Arrival and Registration

8.30am to 9.00am Thursday 3 November 2016

Desmond Manderson and Zenon Bankowski

Keynote presentation

9.00am to 11.30am Thursday 3 November 2016



11.30am to 12.30pm Thursday 3 November 2016


Panel session

12.30pm to 3.30pm Thursday 3 November 2016

James Parker

The laws of sound and the laws of justice need not be too far apart. The author of Acoustic Jurisprudence and the sound theorist will take the participants on a journey of creating laws of the sound and the role of music in creating and steering social change.

Afternoon tea

Afternoon tea

3.30pm to 4.30pm Thursday 3 November 2016

Listening to the sounds and discussion


Panel session

4.30pm to 5.00pm Thursday 3 November 2016

Dorota Gozdecka

Photography, just as law produces meanings through the selective working of the camera lens. The meaning is saturated with colour and light and the photograph presents the object to the world in a specifically construed way. So does law with its constantly debatable definitions and concepts. But what if we try to deconstruct legal concepts with photographic symbolism. The students will create their own photomontages and the works will be available for viewing and discussion and upon permission displayed in the Centre for Law and Humanities.


Panel session

9.00am to 10.30am Friday 4 November 2016

Dorota Gozdecka

Morning tea

Morning tea

10.30am to 11.00am Friday 4 November 2016


Panel session

11.00am to 2.00pm Friday 4 November 2016

Luis Gómez Romero

The narrative of comics creates subjects enmeshed in a specific visual convention where time, space and the narrative enjoy relative flexibility. At the same time the subjectivities created by this fluid components are often ostensibly political. Despite its appeal to neutrality law similarly politicises its subjects within its own convention. This part explores what happens when both conventions are put together. Works will be available for viewing and upon permission displayed in the Centre for Law and Humanities.

Afternoon tea

Afternoon tea

2.00pm to 3.00pm Friday 4 November 2016

Sharing and discussing the images




Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team