Publications

This is a searchable catalogue of the College's most recent books and working papers. Other papers and publications can be found on SSRN and the ANU Researchers database.

Danse Macabre by Desmond Manderson

Danse Macabre: Temporalities of Law in the Visual Arts

Author(s): Desmond Manderson

The visual arts offer refreshing and novel resources through which to understand the representation, power, ideology and critique of law. This vibrantly interdisciplinary book brings the burgeoning field to a new maturity through extended close readings of major works by artists from Pieter Bruegel and Gustav Klimt to Gordon Bennett and Rafael Cauduro. At each point, the author puts these works of art into a complex dance with legal and social history, and with recent developments in legal and art theory. Manderson uses the idea of time and temporality as a focal point through which to explore how the work of art engages with and constitutes law and human lives. In the symmetries and asymmetries caused by the vibrating harmonic resonances of these triple forces - time, law, art - lies a way of not only understanding the world, but also transforming it.

Centre: CLAH

Research theme: Legal Theory

Visual: Representations, Technologies, and Critique

Law and the Visual: Representations, Technologies, and Critique

Editor(s): Desmond Manderson

In Law and the Visual, leading legal theorists, art historians, and critics come together to present new work examining the intersection between legal and visual discourses. Proceeding chronologically, the volume offers leading analyses of the juncture between legal and visual culture as witnessed from the fifteenth to the twenty-first centuries. Editor Desmond Manderson provides a contextual introduction that draws out and articulates three central themes: visual representations of the law, visual technologies in the law, and aesthetic critiques of law. A ground breaking contribution to an increasingly vibrant field of inquiry, Law and the Visual will inform the debate on the relationship between legal and visual culture for years to come.

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Centre: CLAH

Research theme: Law and Gender, Law and Psychology, Law and Religion

Here and Now: From Aestheticizing Politics to Politicizing Art

Author(s): Desmond Manderson

The nation is not a natural construction. It is mediated through representations and particularly through representations with a sensory component. Images therefore are primary means through which a collection identity is established. They serve to constitute myths of belonging; to distinguish friend from enemy, as Schmitt put it. They tell stories; they create models and examples that frame our social existence. But they also generate the icons and symbols whose repetition and familiarity - flags, monuments, even colour combinations - etch habits of feeling and mental associations deep into our psyche.

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Centre: CLAH

Research theme: Legal Theory

Blindness Visible: Law, Time and Bruegel's Justice

Author(s): Desmond Manderson

Printed in 1559, Bruegel's 'Justicia' appears at first glance to be a spatial representation of law—a snapshot, a mis en scène. But it is essentially about time. Bruegel's image overlays three different perspectives on the hitherto unexplored relationship between time, responsibility, and legal authority, revealing the hidden anachronism of law. At the same time, law is shown not merely to be a concept or a symbolic form, but a physical practice engraved in the flesh of those who carry it out and suffer it. Justicia takes as its method art's anachronic discourse and power of embodiment; and presents as its thesis the role of anachronic discourse and corporeal experience to the law. These insights were pertinent to the situation of law in the sixteenth century, but they are of far broader significance than that.

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Centre: CLAH

Research theme: Legal Theory

Modernism, Polarity, and the Rule of Law

Author(s): Desmond Manderson

In this paper I use the history of modernism at the end of the first world war to cast new light on current debates in the rule of law. I argue that ideas of polarity and discord, eg in the work of DH Lawrence, enrich the debate between positivist and romantic theories of the rule of law. The history of modernism both clarifies those debates and shows us a third path between the impoverished alternatives that continue to bedevil debates in this area. Understanding the rule of law through the lens of modernism, and in particular through the language of polarity, disturbs the hegemonic reason of positivism and the hegemonic unreason of romanticism alike. Polarity’s backwards-and-forwards movement of constant correction, adjustment, and metamorphosis cannot resolve the opposition between general rules and specific circumstances, between narrative’s attention to uniqueness and difference and the public demand for an articulated and defensible interpretation of existing principles; instead, both sides remain continually in play. The imperfectability of justice turns the rule of law into an endless process of reassessment and learning. The irreducible tension of polarity or contradiction generates a public process of call and answer, in which our opinions are constantly amended and tested against the challenge of the voices of others. Against positivists’ assertion of law’s perfection and the romantics’ of its perfectibility - the former a claim of purity centered on the past and the second a dream of it focused on the future - the current approach seeks to find in the critique of modernity a way to understand the rule of law while fully embracing our present imperfection, our fragmentation, and the imperfection and fragmentation of justice with us. My argument has been for us to learn to accept and build on these qualities of the human condition, with which modernism was so absorbed, rather than to fear or deny them. Indeed, an awareness that lack lies at the heart of the human condition implies an abiding humility about our human capacities with specific relevance to the claims that institutions might make. In the wake of the first World Ware, modernist art and literature in particular seems to have striven to achieve greater understanding not by maintaining its closure, determinacy, or authority - but by undermining it. That is a trick that the rule of law might do well to emulate.

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Centre: CLAH

Research theme: Legal Theory

Book cover

Kangaroo Courts and the Rule of Law - the Legacy of Modernism

Author(s): Desmond Manderson

Kangaroo Courts and the Rule of Law -The Legacy of Modernism addresses the legacy of contemporary critiques of language for the concept of the rule of law. Between those who care about the rule of law and those who are interested in contemporary legal theory, there has been a dialogue of the deaf, which cannot continue. Starting from the position that contemporary critiques of linguistic meaning and legal certainty are too important to be dismissed, Desmond Manderson takes up the political and intellectual challenge they pose. Can the rule of law be re-configured in light of the critical turn of the past several years in legal theory, rather than being steadfastly opposed to it? Pursuing a reflection upon the relationship between law and the humanities, the book stages an encounter between the influential theoretical work of Jacques Derrida and MIkhail Bakhtin, and D.H. Lawrence's strange and misunderstood novel Kangaroo (1923).

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Centre: CLAH

Research theme: Constitutional Law and Theory, Human Rights Law and Policy, Law and Social Justice, Law, Governance and Development, Legal Theory

Mikhail Bakhtin and the Field of Law and Literature

Author(s): Desmond Manderson

This essay takes as its focus the work of Mikhail Bakhtin, a leading literary theorist who has, to date, received relatively little attention in the field of law and literature. Central themes in the work of Bakhtin include the dialogic quality of the novel and its ethical implications, its commitment to singularity and context, its comprehensive critique of authority and, tying all of these features together, the importance of form and style to our understanding of the experience of literature. These themes all pay attention less to the subject-matter or content of particular works of literature than to its historical trajectory, its distinctive characteristics, and its approach to language. This is perhaps one important way in which Bakhtin’s approach is distinct from the focus on 'narrative' which is so much the staple of law and literature writing. The novel’s 'heteroglossia', as Bakhtin puts it - its irony, ambiguity, and ‘doubleness’ - is neither a serendipitous features of certain texts nor a secondary element of normatively driven ‘story-telling’, but structural and stylistic characteristics of the novel as such. Bakhtin thus problematizes the treatment of narrative and the authenticity of voice assumed in much of the standard literature. While Bakhtin brings to these arguments an unprecedented sweep and command of detail, and a highly distinctive vocabulary for analysis, his arguments parallel the work of the other twentieth-century writers on literature. In particular, writing at the same critical historical moment, Bakhtin’s claims are echoed in D.H. Lawrence’s own essays on the novel, and illustrated - indeed, performed - in his fiction.

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Centre: CLAH

Research theme: Legal Theory

Shakespeare and Judgment: The Renewal of Law and Literature

Author(s): Desmond Manderson

Legal theorist Desmond Manderson and Shakespearean Paul Yachnin develop parallel arguments that seek to restore a public dimension of responsibility to literary studies and a private dimension of responsibility to law. Their arguments issue from their work as the creators of the Shakespeare Moot Court at McGill University, a course in which graduate English students team up with senior Law students to argue cases in “Court of Shakespeare,” where the sole Institutes, Codex, and Digest are comprised by the plays of Shakespeare. Yachnin argues that modern literary studies suffers from impermanence and isolation from real-world concerns and that it can redress these limitations — developing attributes of corrigibility, temporality, judgment, and publicity — by learning from law. Manderson finds modern legal judgment bereft of affective engagement with the subjects of law and wedded to an ideal of objectivity, regulation, and impersonality. Literature can restore to legal judgment the elements of narrative, character, context, and self-reflection. Together, the essays argue that the question of judgment, so integral to the disciplines of law and of literature, needs the renewal that an inter-disciplinary engagement provides.

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Centre: CLAH

Research theme: Legal Theory

‘As If’ - the Court of Shakespeare and the Relationships of Law and Literature

Author(s): Desmond Manderson

The Shakespeare Moot Court is a form of serious play that inspires participating legal and literary students and professors to think about interdisciplinary in a new way - by doing it. Members of the Court apply their analytical and argumentative skills to the task of creating the law of Shakespeare, tackling matters of public concern such as same-sex marriage, crimes against humanity, and freedom of religion. In the course, senior Law students and graduate students from English team up to argue cases in the “Court of Shakespeare” (where the sole Institutes, Codex, and Digest are comprised by the plays of William Shakespeare). The Court involves students (as counsel) and Shakespeareans and legal scholars (as judges) in a competitive and collaborative form of play whose object is to engage with Shakespeare’s plays in order to render judgments concerning particular contemporary legal problems. In the first part, this essay reflects on critical practice in Shakespeare studies and the argues that the legal model of the moot court offers this practice dimensions of accountability, corrigibility, and temporality which are essential to the future of the critical practice of literary studies. Above all the Shakespeare Moot Court provides a new and necessary way of restoring Shakespeare criticism, or some significant part of it, to the public realm. In the second part, the argument is reversed. The literary conceit of the Shakespeare Moot Project serves to dramatize that literature’s very different orientation offers to the world of law a vital reminder that the question of judgment is always imbricated in the character, experiences, and subjectivity of the judge. This perspective, which was indeed universally understood as integral to the exercise of judgment, whether literary or legal, in Shakespeare’s time, seems in many ways to have been forgotten or sidelined in most modern understandings of law. For the literary theorist, the “privatization” of literature from the late eighteenth century on has obscured its role in public discourse, as the first part argues. For the legal theorist, as the second part argues, the “publicization” of law from the late eighteenth century on has obscured its connection to personal responsibility. The two arguments together demonstrate that the Enlightenment’s project of defining and dividing disciplines - allocating the realm of public action to law and that of private feeling to literature - has come at the cost of the relevance of one and the humanity of the other.

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Centre: CLAH

Research theme: Legal Theory

Emmanuel Levinas and the Philosophy of Negligence

Author(s): Desmond Manderson

Over the past hundred years, the law of negligence has transformed itself, and in the process transformed our sense of the obligations we all owe to everybody around us – local governments for the services they provide, banks and professionals for the advice they give, drivers on the road, doctors in the surgery, homeowners for their guests or visitors, and even for the trespassers who might pay them a call. Yet what is now compendiously described as ‘the duty of care’ is in some ways an unusual obligation. It is not the outcome of an agreement founded on self-interest, like a contract. It is not a duty owed to the community as a whole and acted on by the State, like criminal law. It describes a personal responsibility we owe to others which has been placed upon us without our consent. It is a kind of debt that each of us owes to others although we never consciously accrued it. Thus it raises in a distinctly personal way one of the oldest questions of law itself: ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ What does it mean to be responsible? This is not a question that is easier to answer for us than for Cain. In this article I argue that the idea of responsibility articulated in the law of negligence comes from what might be termed our literal response-ability: it implies a duty to respond to others stemming not from our abstract sameness to others, but rather from our particular difference from them. Responsibility is not a quid pro quo — it is asymmetrical, a duty to listen to the breath of others just in so far as their interests diverge from our own. The duty of care emerges not because we have a will (which the law of contract respects) or a body (which the criminal law protects) but because we have a soul.

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Centre: CLAH

Research theme: Legal Theory

Modes of Law: Music and Legal Theory - An Interdisciplinary Workshop Introduction

Author(s): Desmond Manderson

This essay introduces an interdisciplinary symposium held at Cardozo School of Law in New York, and argues for a new field of study on the relationship between music and legla theory - historical, social, semiotic, symbolic, and theoretical. The symposium gathered leading figures from fields of legal theory, social theory, and musicology to present their work.

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Centre: CLAH

Research theme: Legal Theory

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