Vanderbilt Law Review


William H. Page

First Page



The modern field of law and literature began in 1907 with the publication of Wigmore's list of novels related to law.' The form of that work is significant because for decades, the field remained largely one of reading lists assembled to broaden the perspectives of practicing lawyers. In literary scholarship, law and literature scarcely could have been called a field; critics discussed the effects of law on the work of various writers, often perceptively but their studies were independent of each other and of legal scholarship. In the past decade, however, law and literature has shed its nonprofessional heritage and has emerged as a truly interdisciplinary field of study with such trappings as scholarly conferences, symposia in law journals, law school courses, and permanent organizations. The influence of hermeneutics is such that "the footnotes in the kind of constitutional law articles that used to cite Rawls and Nozick now increasingly refer to works of literary theory."' Despite these outward manifestations of maturity, the subject matter of law and literature remains poorly defined even in the minds of those lawyers and literary scholars who recognize it as a field.