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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: June 2019

5 - Law and Literature, the Procedural and the Performative

from Part II - Fashioning Methods

Summary

This chapter looks at two nexuses: law-and-literature and human-rights-and-literature. In her analysis of Charles Reznikoff’s book-length poem Testimony: the United States (1885-1915): Recitative (1978), the author brings the law-and-literature paradigm to bear on literary expression of human rights. She finds in the text overlapping ideations of the procedural and the performative, in its juridical and literary dimensions. On the one hand, the text serves to show the limitations of the law and its technologies such as the trial, which literary performance can help compensate for. On the other hand, Reznikoff's poem also proves the necessity for these technologies as organizing principles, especially in methods like citation and precedent, in order to battle the ever present risk of erasure.

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