Writing the Lawyers and Literature Course

James R. Elkins | Spring | 2016

Writing for the Course

Writing Exercises | Prototypes | Exemplars | Thinking about Writing

Week 1: Parables


  Try your hand at writing a law school parable. Or, a Lawyers and Literature course parable. Or for that matter, any kind of parable. You might think of this parable as an introduction to your course paper; or, it might work as an epilogue to your paper. There is a real possibility that your parable will constitute a piece of junk writing from which you will be fortunate to salvage anything of value. If you find nothing in it that is salvageable, you might want to rethink how you go about writing, that is, what you put into your writing. [On the garbage we produce when we write, and why it might not be such a bad thing, see: Notes on Peter Elbow. The Peter Elbow notes and Peter Elbow's book, Writing With Power: Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process (New York: Oxford University Press, 2nd ed., 1998) may help you with your writing, and the book prompts me to suggest that you should begin your course writing—now.

  Final exams may not be a topic you want to be thinking about as we get the Lawyers and Literature course underway, but you will have to say this about final exams: Exams are an impetus to pull together what you know about a legal subject. In mind of this power of final exams to help you focus, and focus in the most intense way, I present the following Final Examination question for Lawyers and Literature, a question that assumes that you had a single one page reading assignment for the entire semester, and that one page was Franz Kafka's parable, "Before the Law": Lawyers and Literature Final Examination

Parable Influenced Writings

Mary Kay Buchmelter, “In the Beginning: Justice and Mercy,” 8 (1) ALSA F. 4 (1984) [online text] [Buchmelter was a law student at West Virginia University College of Law when she wrote this essay.]

Jeremy Gilman, "The Real World of Law School," 24 Legal Stud. F. 19 (2000) [online text]



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