Lawyers and Literature

James R. Elkins
College of Law || West Virginia University

"It will be obvious by now that I am still in love with the word, still faithfully wed to text, and especially literary text. Reading such text remains, for me, the most interactive thing that we as humans do, converting these little black squiggles on white backgrounds into vast landscapes, ancient battlegrounds, and distant galaxies, into events more vivid than those on the news or on the streets outside with characters we know better than we know our own families and friends. That’s what writers invented: this enlargement of our imaginative powers." --Robert Coover, Literary Hypertext: The Passing of the Golden Age [originally published, Feed, 2000] [online text]

"Every now and then one comes across some really powerful character in an out of the way place. I mean a really powerful character who writes, or paints, or walks up and down and thinks, like some overwhelming animal in a corner of the zoo. Personally, I feel terribly in need of encountering some such character." --Wallace Stevens, letter to Henry Church, dated November 20, 1945, in Holly Stevens (ed.), Letters of Wallace Stevens 517-518 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996)(1966)] [Wallace Stevens was a lawyer and a poet]


Cover | Table of Contents


Prologue: "Tell Me a Story";

Chapter 1: Claiming Law School as a Place of Stories

Chapter 2: The Law World Gets Real

Chapter 3: Meditations on the Fictions We Live

Chapter 4: Letter to My Friend, Lowell Komie

Chapter 5: Stories Take Center Stage

Chapter 6: Stories Prod Us to See Our Education
and Ourselves in a More Critical Light

Chapter 7: Robert, and His Fellow Escape Artists

Chapter 8: Endnotes & Detours: Rewinding the
Lawyers and Literature Course

Chapter 9: Talking with Rebecca and Clara about Their Encounter
with Fictional Lawyers

Epilogue: An Autobiographical Postscript



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