Lawyers and Literature

Background Readings

We'll use the first meeting of the class to get a better sense of what the course is all about, what you'll be doing in the course, the readings you'll be asked to do, and the writing expected of you which will be used for an evaluation and a grade for the course.

In preparation for this first class meeting you should peruse the course website as it provides a more indepth commentary on the nature of the course and the selected readings. You will want to read carefully: [Studying Literature] [Teachers' Work]

As you read these first assigned stories, you should also begin to peruse the following:

Reading Law, Reading Literature

Enemies of Reading

Assumptions about Literature

What You Bring With You

Making Yourself a Subject of Study

Reading Lawyer Stories  

Thinking about Our Lives as Stories

Working with Stories

Strategies for Reading

In the background of all your reading, with every story, will be the question: what is this story doing here (in the course)? And there are a host of questions which accompany this basic one: What am I supposed to do with this story? How am I to talk about this story with my colleagues (my fellow students and the teacher)? How am I supposed to made use of the story to further my education as a lawyer? At times we'll try to be explicit and raise these questions directly, while at other times we'll let them reside off-stage (where they may still be a significant influence on the conversation about the stories). These questions raise a still more basic question, one you may well think too basic to be taken up in a serious way—how do I read? (How is one to try to read this story?) In thinking about these basic questions you may find it interesting, even as you begin the course to think about the s-t-r-a-t-e-g-i-e-s you use in reading: [Reading Strategies] [If you begin your reading of the "Reading Strategies" commentary and find that it takes you beyond what you want or need to know to get your reading for the course underway, then file the commentary away and come back to it as you find it helpful.]

Assignments will be marked on the assignments page with double purple bullets: You should read, as part of the assignment, the Instructor's Note (webpage) if there is one available.

I have assembled a selection of web resources to accompany some of the readings. You'll also find some of the course readings online. A course reading found online will be noted by a hypertext link to the webpage as e.g.: Jeremy Gilman, "The Real World of Law School" [online text]. If you try to access the online text source for a story and it does not work, please notify me by email and I will try to promptly correct the problem. The web resources are indicated on the various webpages with a "web resources image:

The web resources are not assigned reading. Links to these resources are provided not with the idea that they provide direct guidance on how to read or interpret or to work with a particular story, but because they provide information about the author of the selection, other "readings" of the story by other readers, critical commentary, and scholarly exploration of themes found in the story. (In some instances, the linked resources may be of greater interest to graduate students in literature than to law students!) If, during the course of your reading and web browsing, you find web resources of interest to the class please pass them along and I'll make them available, either by announcement, or by adding them to the relevant "web resources" page of the course website.

I have tried to map out and schedule (at least in some tentative fashion) an entire semester of readings. It would be foolish to try to follow this schedule and not allow for more or less discussion of particular readings given your interest (and my energies). Consequently, we'll try to follow the schedule but will vary it as necessary as we proceed.

Please note that after each class meeting I will move amend the assignments page and will add the evening's assignment to the Assignments Archive page (which you can access from the homepage of the course website). While my intention is to discuss everything assigned, I do not see the failure to do so as fatal. Each of the stories assigned stands on its own merits and should be of value without extensive commentary.

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