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Law as Performance. Theatricality, Spectatorship, and the Making of Law in Ancient, Medieval, and Early Modern Europe

Julie Stone Peters

STONE PETERS Julie, 2022, Law as Performance. Theatricality, Spectatorship, and the Making of Law in Ancient, Medieval, and Early Modern Europe, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

ISBN : 9780192898494

Tirades against legal theatrics are nearly as old as law itself, and yet so is the age-old claim that law must not merely be done : it must be "seen to be done." Law as Performance traces the history of legal performance and spectatorship through the early modern period. Viewing law as the product not merely of edicts or doctrines but of expressive action, it investigates the performances that literally created law : in civic arenas, courtrooms, judges’ chambers, marketplaces, scaffolds, and streets. It examines the legal codes, learned treatises, trial reports, lawyers’ manuals, execution narratives, rhetoric books, images (and more) that confronted these performances, praising their virtues or denouncing their evils. In so doing, it recovers a long, rich, and largely overlooked tradition of jurisprudential thought about law as a performance practice. This tradition not only generated an elaborate poetics and politics of legal performance. It provided western jurisprudence with a set of constitutive norms that, in working to distinguish law from theatrics, defined the very nature of law. In the crucial opposition between law and theatre, law stood for cool deliberation, by-the-book rules, and sovereign discipline. Theatre stood for deceptive artifice, entertainment, histrionics, melodrama. And yet legal performance, even at its most theatrical, also appeared fundamental to law’s realization : a central mechanism for shaping legal subjects, key to persuasion, essential to deterrence, indispensable to law’s power, —as it still does today.

Table des matières

1. Theatre, Theatrocracy, and the Politics of Pathos in the Athenian Lawcourt
2. The Roman Advocate as Actor : Actio, Pronuntiatio, Prosopopoeia, and Persuasive Empathy in Cicero and Quintilian
3. Courtroom Oratory, Forensic Delivery, and the Wayward Body in Medieval Rhetorical Theory
4. Irreverent Performances, Heterodox Subjects, and the Unscripted Crowd from the Medieval Courtroom to the Stocks and Scaffold
5. Performing Law in the Age of Theatre (c. 1500-1650)
6. Legal Performance Education in Early Modern England

Julie Stone Peters (B.A. Yale, Ph.D. Princeton, J.D. Columbia) is the H. Gordon Garbedian Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and Co-Chair of Columbia’s Theatre and Performance PhD Program. She has taught at Harvard, Stanford, and the Metropolitan Detention Center (Brooklyn), was Founding Director of the Columbia College Human Rights Program, and has been the recipient of Guggenheim, NEH, Fulbright, ACLS, Humboldt, and other fellowships. Her publications include Theatre of the Book : Print, Text, and Performance in Europe 1480-1880 (Oxford University Press, 2000, winner of the Harry Levin and Beatrice White Prizes), Women’s Rights, Human Rights : International Feminist Perspectives (co-edited, Routledge, 1995), and numerous studies of drama, performance, film, media, and the cultural history of law