Lawyers and Literature
James R. Elkins

Story | Narrative Resources

Narrative Jurisprudence

"While a law student's education may have taught them something about the state of the law, and its application to specific legal problems, I assumed that they had learned far less about lawyering and how it might affect a person's life. Learning to think like a lawyer-whatever that turns out to mean-is not the same as working as a lawyer and living a lawyer's life. Lawyering is the only professional calling that is adversarial in nature. It is adversarial in that lawyers find themselves pitted not only against each other, each side zealously representing a client, but lawyers often find themselves pitted against themselves in that the position of their client (which they are paid to represent) might not be their own. The result, for any person of substance, is an ongoing conflict between the lawyer with an independent intellectual (and a regard for the truth) and his role as advocate (for clients who may not share his intellectual concerns, nor his regard for the truth). Basically, law school doesn't help students recognize, explore, or deal with this problem of immersing oneself in an adversarial existence and being in conflict with one's self." [William Domnarski, Law and Literature, 27 Legal Stud. F. 109, 110 (2003)]

"We (those who subscribe to American law as a set of practices) need cases; we thrive on facts. With facts, we make stories, and we worry about the application of rules to the stories we make." [Kim Lane Sheppele, Narrative Resistance and the Struggle for Stories, 20 Legal Stud. F. 83 (1996)]

"Researchers have found that the human brain has a natural affinity for narrative construction. People tend to remember facts more accurately if they encounter them in a story rather than in a list, studies find; and they rate legal arguments as more convincing when built into narrative tales rather than on legal precedent." [Benedict Carey, "This Is Your Life (and How You Tell It)," New York Times, May 22, 2007 (online text)]

A Bibliographical Guide to Narrative Jurisprudence
James R. Elkins

The Appellate Brief as Story

An Empirical Study of the Power of Story

Beloved are the Storytellers

Fiction Writing Techniques to Write Persuasive Facts Sections

Stories about Storytelling: 100 Years of Brief Writing Advice

Law as Practice & Narrative

How Jurors Use Narrative to Process Evidence

Once Upon a Time in Law: Myth, Metaphor, and Authority

Client-Centered Interviewing Through Storytelling

This is Not the Whole Truth: The Ethics of Telling Stories to Clients

Telling the Client's Story Using the Archetypal Hero's Journey

The Power of the Narrative in Domestic Violence Law Reform

Law as Story: A Civic Concept of Law

Stories of American Law

Jeffrey Dahmer, the Serial Killer--The Insanity Defense and Narrative

A Narrative Analysis of Korematus v. United States

Shooting Stories: The Creation of Narrative and Melodrama in Real and Fictional Litigation against the Gun Industry

A Witness to Justice

On Reznikoff's Testimony

Jurisprudence as Narrative
Robin West, 60 N.Y.U.L. Rev. 145 (1985)

No Place To Go, No Story To Tell: The Missing Narratives
of the Sanctuary Movement

Teresa Godwin Phelps, 48 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 123 (1991)

Reshaping the Narrative Debate
Nancy Levit, 34 Seattle U.L. Rev. 751 (2011)

Using Narrative Jurisprudence to Develop a Narrative Approach
to Deliberative Ethical Argument in Composition

Donna L. Scheidt, dissertation, University of Michigan, 2011

Stories and Legal Education

"American law places stories squarely at the center of debate. Our tradition of legal education through the case method emphasizes the law produced in courts more than the law produced in legislatures. For those immersed in the three-year acculturation process of a contemporary law school, the focus clearly falls on appellate decisions. In these mini-treatises, judges follow the convention of rationalizing decisions by presenting the facts and law so as to make their choices appear inevitable. But students quickly learn that judicial decisions are, in fact, infinitely malleable. If reading dissenting opinions that re-characterize the facts or reinterpret the law doesn't convince a student, then Socratic badgering surely will. For a student educated in the case method, it is not cynical to conclude that judges tell stories to justify their decisions-this storytelling process is merely intuitive. Legal education teaches students that storytelling skills are the stock-in-trade of the legal profession. Legal arguments are created, much like a simple fable, from the stock elements of facts and law." [Mark A. Clawson, Telling Stories: Romance and Dissonance in Progressive Legal Narratives, 22 Legal Stud. F. 353, 357 (1998)]

Storytelling: A Different Voice for Legal Education
Sandra Craig McKenzie, 41 Kan. L. Rev. (1992)

Storytelling Across the Curriculum

Legal Storytelling-Reflective Writing Across the Curriculum

Stories in Law School: An Essay on Language, Participation, and the Power of Legal Education

Essays on Story by Ken Sanes

Contemporary Storytelling: Tales of Life Way After the Fall

"Most works of fiction, from movies to stories told around the dying embers of a campfire, work their magic on us by employing a single set of elements. They start by showing us characters who are in a state of exile from what they desire and who seek a kind of paradise in which their desires will be fulfilled."

Popular Fiction and the Quest for Freedom

"[We discover in ] the stories of popular culture-in movies, TV, news, political speeches, advertisements, and so on-are based on . . . themes that center around our desire to evolve into whole selves and good societies, in the face of fears and desires, and obstacles that block our path."

Schemas and Stories

"In everyday life, people rely on cognitive models, maps or schemas of how the world works, to organize their perception of events and determine how to act. These models make up much of the structure of the unconscious mind, on which our conscious thinking and decisions are based."

Westerns: The Founding of Civilization As the Bridling of Masculine Desire

"Of the various genres of fiction, one of the most popular in America has been the frontier story, which tells about characters who establish and protect outposts of civilization. Typically, the outposts of civilization depicted in these stories-whether they are space stations, ranches, towns or forts-exist in a sea of dangerous nature that can close in at any time. Just as typically, they are threatened from within by characters who seem to have a little too much in common with the raw nature on the outside."

The Real Self in a Virtual World: Popular Culture as an Expression of Human Nature

"Everyone-at least everyone with a reasonably normal mind and brain-has a true self that is partly buried beneath their everyday personality. This self is who each of us is and can become when our natural growth isn't interfered with by personal and cultural neurosis."

Story-Based Simulations: Art and Technology Masquerading as Life

"[T]he representational arts [fiction foremost among them] offer us the illusion of an objective reality in which everything exists to expand our inner life. In the nonfiction world, we find ourselves in circumstances that are governed by physical laws or other people's desires or chance. However much we may like to think otherwise, most of our efforts to re-create this world so it takes note of our values and desires are unsuccessful. But the enchanted realm of the arts temporarily place us in fictional substitutes that are crafted ahead of time to revolve around us, in which sense and meaning are combined in ways that satisfy our hunger for new and pleasurable experiences, and give our inner life an intensity that is only rarely evoked by the nonfiction world."

Story Writing by Bill Johnson

Understanding What a Story Is

"From prehistoric times when our ancestors gathered around fires in caves, storytellers have been aware of how arranging events in a story-like way held the attention of an audience."

"What is a story? I say it is a vehicle that carries us on an engaging, dramatic journey to a destination of resolution we find satisfying and fulfilling."

Perceiving the Foundation of Storytelling

"[A]t its heart, a story must have an issue at stake that is of consequence to the story's audience. Something the members of the audience will desire to experience in a state of resolution and fulfillment. Love. Courage. Redemption. Renewal. Some issue that revolves around the aching need of humans to feel they matter, that they have a place in the world."

Understanding the Process of Storytelling

"Storytelling is a process. A process that involves understanding the dramatic issue or idea at the heart of a story and arranging a story's elements to bring that issue to resolution in a way that offers the story's audience a dramatic experience of fulfillment."

Film & Story/Narrative

Dramatica: A New Theory of Story

Cinematic Narrative

Thinking About Stories

Big Stories & Little Stories
[M. Bamberg , Biographic-narrative Research, Quo Vadis? A Critical Review of 'Big Stories' from the Perspective of 'Small Stories,' in Kate Milnes, Christine Horrocks, Nancy Kelly, Brian Roberts & David Robinson (eds), Narrative, Memory and Knowledge: Representations, Aesthetics and Contexts (Huddersfield: University of Huddersfield Press, 2006)]

Life Stories and Telling Our Lives

Telling Stories: Aging, Reminiscence, and Life Review

Life and Structure

Why Study People's Stories?
Arthur W. Frank

Arthur W. Frank: His teaching & work

At the Will of the Body: Reflections on Illness

Letting Stories Breathe: A Socio-Narratology

Stories and Their Telling

"For the caveman, the world was a strange and unexpected place. Storytelling around campfires enabled the village to pool information about the baffling problems that faced the village, why the wolves were attacking or why the crops failed, or why the weather was so harsh or dry or wet, and so on. As we began to master these things over the last few couple of thousand years, we started to feel as though we understood what was going on. Now once again, the  world is becoming turbulent and things are, once again, looking unexpected. Hence we feel the urge to sit around a conceptual campfire and swap stories and this very old technology of storytelling resonates with us yet again." [Steve Denning, Why Storytelling at this Particular Time?] [Steven Denning on Narrative]

Story Intelligence


What is Public Narrative?

Public Narrative

Narrative & Ritual


How to Tell a Story
[3:01 mins.] [Nancy Duarte comments on stories of transformation]

Engage Through Storytelling
[4:13 mins.] [Nancy Duarte]

NPR's Scott Simon: How to Tell a Story
[3:30 mins.]

Ken Burns on Story
[5:21 mins.]

Storytelling Theory and Practice
[45:17 mins.] [Brian Sturm presents storytelling as a way of organizing information, conveying emotions, and building community.]

Harnessing the Power of Stories
[19:40 mins.] [Social psychologist Jennifer Aaker is the General Atlantic Professor of Marketing at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business]

Jennifer Aaker: The Power of Story
[49:51 mins.]

Videos | TED Talks

The Power of Storytelling to Change the World
[17:16 mins.] [Dave Lieber is a newspaper columnist for the Dallas Morning News ]

The Storytelling Animal
[7:24 mins.] [Jonathan Gottschall is the author of The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human]

Wired for Story
[17:32 mins.] [Lisa Cron] [Lisa Cron worked in publishing at W.W. Norton, as an agent at the Angela Rinaldi Literary Agency, as a producer for Showtime and CourtTV, and as a story consultant for Warner Brothers and the William Morris Agency, and since 2006, as an instructor in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program ]

The Power of Storytelling
[12:36 mins.] [Andrea Gibbs, Australia]

It's Only a Story
[14:01 mins.] [David Closs, UK comedian]

The Mystery of Storytelling
[18:28 mins.] [Julian Friedmann]

Why Storytelling Matters
[15:10 mins.]

Stories Out Loud: Bill Harley
[13:36 mins.] [Bill Harley ]

The Clues to a Great Story
19:16 mins.] [Andrew Stanton]

The Power of Story
[18:56 mins.] [Susan Conley]

[12:33 mins.] [Sarah Kay]

Why We Tell Stories
[14:40 mins.] [Patricia Evangelista]

Leadership Storytelling
[15:50 mins.] [Steve Denning]

Tell Me a Story
[16:02 mins.] [Todd Babiak]

The Future of Story
[18:43 mins.] [Jeff Parkin]

Psychologically, We Are Our Stories
[18:44 mins.] [Jonny White]

The Power of Healing Through Storytelling
[12:19 mins.] [Nicole Stewart]

How Exploring the Feminine Turned My Wounds into Strengths
[17:28 mins.] [Nicole Sorochan]

How to Write a Story
[17:45 mins.] [John Dufresne]

A Turn to Narrative

"The past several decades have seen an explosion of interest in narrative, with this multifaceted object of inquiry becoming a central concern in a wide range of disciplinary fields and research contexts." [Routledge Encyclopedia Of Narrative Theory]

"In the past decade there has been a dramatic surge of interest in the concept of 'narrative.' Narrative has not only provided literary criticism, philosophical ethics, law, theology, and biblical studies with new tools for argument and interpretation, it has also provoked a radical rethinking of modern presuppositions about the nature of these areas of inquiry." [H. Jefferson Powell, Transparency, Opacity, and Openness in Narrative, 40 J. Legal Educ. 161 (1990)][online text]

"[A] small revolution with potentially large consequences is occurring in our contemporary knowledge culture. . . . [A] protean reframing of the narrative concept is seeping and/or being appropriated into the central epistemological frameworks of a spectrum of other disciplines-including medicine, social psychology, anthropology, gender studies, law, biology, and physics." [Margaret R. Somers & Gloria D. Gibson, "Reclaiming the Epistemological 'Other': Narrative and the Social Constitution of Identity," in Craig Calhoun (ed.), Social Theory and the Politics of Identity][online text]

"Narrative is no doubt one of the great academic travellers of the last forty years. As such, there is nothing exceptional or sensational in this mobility: narrative simply belongs to the same group of travellers as 'culture,' 'discourse,' 'gender,' and many others. Epistemic ruptures obviously encourage such fast transformations of the scholarly vocabulary. Many of these overlapping re-evaluations have been categorized under the more or less hyperbolic title, 'turn,' be it linguistic, cultural, rhetorical, constructivist, or narrative." [Matti Hyvärinen, An Introduction to Narrative Travels]

On the "turn to narrative" in the disciplines, see:

Narrative Inquiry and Autoethnography in Higher Education

Narrative Inquiry

The Enemies of Storytelling Down Through the Ages

"There is a great deal of interest in representation and narrative in anthropology now, including the politics of the stories we tell about ourselves and about the people we construct as 'other.'" [Bridget Hayden, Mead, Myth, & Public Anthropology]

The Narrative Turn: Interdisciplinary Methods and Perspectives

Anthropology as Theoretical Storytelling

The Anthropology of Storytelling and the Storytelling of Anthropology

Anthropological Issues in Ethnography and Personal Narrative: A Bibliography

Anthropology/Ethnography and Narrative: Articles Bibliography

On Anthropology, Narrative, and Law, see: Rebecca R. French, Of Narrative in Law and Anthropology, 30 Law & Soc. Rev. 417 (1996)

"The argument can be made that all visual material has a story behind it regardless of its lack of descriptive subject matter . . . ." [Christina Vassallo, A Story Being Told]

Artificial Intelligence

Computational Narratology


Narrative Paradigm


Storytelling Among the Anthropologists

Ethnographic Writing

Narrative Ethnography

‘Based on a true story’: Ethnography’s impact as a narrative form

Doing Narrative Ethnography

Types of Ethnography in Qualitative Research

Ethnography, Storytelling, and Phenomenology: Good Problems
in Writing Religion

"The applications for narrative in an academic context are as varied as the stories themselves. Narrative enquiry gives permission to learners to tap into the tacit knowledge embedded in their experience as well as to learn from each other in the process. It also serves as a springboard for dialogue about the deeper issues of their professional discipline that may not be easily illuminated through other methods." [Alternative Modes of Teaching and Learning: Storytelling, website now unavailable]

"Narrative history is the practice of writing history in a story-based form."

-Narrative History - Wikipedia

"He thought the future of narrative would be made, as the history of narrative had been made, by historians, thinking of themselves as writers, learning from writers, and writing, taking the same care as poets and novelists with their words and designs, perhaps also taking some of the same risks. . . . It would always be made by writers who trusted, and who could figure out how to fall into, and lose themselves in, stories." [James Goodman, For the Love of Stories, 26 (1) Reviews in American History 255, 268 (1998)]

What History Is

Narrative History

"In most sociolinguistic studies of the speech community, narratives of personal experience play a prominent role." [William Labov, Ordinary Events]

Uncovering the Event Structure of Narrative

Some Further Steps in Narrative Analysis

Narrative Models and Meaning

"If a literary text does something to its readers, it also simultaneously tells us something about them. Thus literature turns into a divining rod, locating our dispositions, desires, inclinations, and eventually our overall makeup. The question arises as to why we may need this particular medium . . ." [Wolfgang Iser, Prospecting: From Reader Response to Literary Anthropology vii ( Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989)]


Narrative Point of View-Wikipedia

Narrating Ethics

Management & Organization Studies

Imparting Knowledge through Storytelling

Storytelling: Passport to Success in the 21st Century

Using Narratives for Organisational Success

Storytelling in Organizations: Larry Prusak

"At first glance (and maybe the second one too), narrative and mathematics don't seem to be natural companions, but recent years have made the juxtaposition much more common." [John Allen Paulos, Math in Narratives]


Narrative Medicine: Wikipedia

Stories in Medicine: Doctors-in-Training/A Different Type of Patient History
[NPR, Margot Adler, audio]

The Healing Power of Stories

Doctor as Story-Listener and Storyteller

Stories for Life: Introduction to Narrative Medicine
[Miriam Divinsky]

Interpreting People as They Interpret Themselves: Narrative in Medical Anthropology and Family Medicine

From Narrative Wreckage to Islands of Clarity: Stories of Recovery from Psychosis

Narratives and Therapy

An Extraordinary Moment: The Healing Power of Stories

Literature and Medicine: Exploring Margaret Atwood’s Short Story “Death by Landscape”

Medicine (Videos)

Honoring the Stories of Illness: Dr. Rita Charon
[18:16 mins.]

Rita Charon: A Sense of Story, or Narrative Medicine for the Chaos of Illness?
[1:21:17 mins.]

Rita Charon: Narrative Methods of Building Effective Health Care Teams
[51:23 mins.]

Doctors' Stories: For a Bellevue Physician, Listening--and Writing--Are Key
[NPR, Melissa Block, audio]

Story Specialists: Doctors Who Write
[6:37 mins.] [NPR, audio]

Dr Oliver Sacks on Narrative and Medicine and the Importance of the Case History [40:59 mins.]

Every Patient Tells a Story
[1:01:04 mins.][Lisa Sanders is a professor of medicine, at the Yale University School of Medicine and author of Every Patient Tells a Story: Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosis] [presentation begins at 5:06 mins.]
Meet Author Dr. Lisa Sanders [51:30 mins.]

"Myths are stories, but not just any stories. They are stories of special symbolic significance. Myths are prototypical stories, concretising the really fundamental themes of human existence; involving archetypal characters and situations; expressing the really basic curiosities, hopes, fears, desires, conflicts, choices and patterns of resolution.  Myths are paradigmatic stories, i.e., stories that are told and retold as shedding light on other stories, as linking past and present, as bringing the unknown into relation with known.  Myths are resonating narratives, embodying the distilled essence of human experience; giving symbolic answers to the most basic human questions, questions of origin and destiny; offering stylised solutions to the most basic human decisions; staking out the choices to be made at life's cross-roads.  Myths are normative narratives, setting out a society's history, legitimating its institutions, codes and values and envisioning its future development.  Myths are synthesizing stories, capturing the zeitgeist of a time and place, bringing to a focus what forces are at work, highlighting its problems, and crystallizing its values." ["Story, Myth, Dream and Drama," in Helena Sheehan, Irish Television Drama: A Society and Its Stories (Radio Telefís Éireann, 2nd ed., 2004) ]

A Host of Heroes
[video, 4:53 mins.]


Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative

The Structure of Narrative


European Narratology Network

Narrative Contestations

What Is Narrative Theory?

Hoodwinked by Aristotle: Narratological Reflection

"So, the first day of class we begin by asking them questions such as 'What is a narrative or story?' What are the basic elements of a story?" 'How would you apply the notion of a narrative or story to you?' We spend quite a bit of time talking about the story of our institution. We ask older students to tell particular stories they find especially interesting, maddening, or perplexing. At the end of the class period, the students have competently practiced philosophy as a narrative activity." [Anne-Marie Bowery, Questions As a Pedagogical Tool: A Narrative Approach to Philosophy, 22 Teaching Philosophy 17 (1999)]

Narratives and Narrators: A Philosophy of Stories

MacIntyre, Narrative and Moral Development


Narrative Poetry

Narrative Poems

Political Science

Towards a Narrative Theory of Political Agency

Journal of Narrative Politics

"The study of stories people tell about their lives is no longer a promising new direction for the future of personality psychology. Instead, personal narratives and the life story have arrived. In the first decade of the 21st century, narrative approaches to personality have moved to the center of the discipline." [Dan P. McAdams, "Personal Narratives and the Life Story," in John Robins (eds.), Handbook of Personality: Theory and Research (New York: Wilford Press, 3rd ed., 2008)]

Narrative Psychology: Resources Guide

A Story Telling Psychology

Narrative Therapy-Wikipedia

Research Methodology
"Narrative inquiry is the process of gathering information for the purpose of research through storytelling." [Narrative Inquiry - Conducting Observational Research, Colorado State University]

Redefining our Understanding of Narrative

Qualitative Research

A Review of Narrative Methodology

"The narrative turn in human inquiry has reached the social sciences and has created a situation I refer to as narrative's moment. This moment is a set of conditions and possibilities through which a genuine narrative sociology might be developed. Such a sociology would encompass the sociology of narratives, or the study of narratives from the standpoint of sociology's domain interests, and it would more inclusively and reflexively include sociology's narratives, viewing sociologists as narrators and thereby inquiring into what they do to and with their's and other peoples narratives." [David R. Maines, Narratives Moment and Sociology's Phenomena: Toward a Narrative Sociology, 34 (1) Sociological Quarterly 17 (1993)]

Why Study People's Stories? The Dialogical Ethics of Narrative Analysis

A Sociology of Storytelling

Narrative and the Social Construction of Identity

"Practically every theological discipline has seen some proposal for the use of narrative as a means for rethinking the nature, method, and tasks of that discipline." [George Stroup, Theology of Narrative or Narrative Theology?: A Response to Why Narrative?]

A Feminist Methodology for Narrative Theology and Ethics

Narrative Theology: Wikipedia

Discerning the Story Structures In the Narrative Literature of the Bible

What Narrative Theology Forgot