Greta Olson (Gießen/Bonn): Future(s) of Law and Literature, with a commentary by Laurent de Sutter (Brussels)


Future(s) of Law and Literature opens by dealing with claims that the sub-discipline called Law and Literature has run its course and has now lost its relevance amongst a cornucopia of other interdisciplinary cultural approaches to law. The book thus first rehearses recent critical moves that signal larger alterations in Law and Literature research. These include most prominently the change in emphasis from narrative- and linguistic-oriented approaches to law, or Law and Literature in the traditional sense, to a focus on ‘Law and Visual Culture’ and ‘Law and Media’ and ‘Law and Semiotics.’ A second alteration concerns the movement away from a monumentalized notion of Literature as the locus of ethics and contingent justice to a focus on affect – for instance, in the interaction of suffering and forgiveness with law. Finally, the book documents instances of new comparative and historicist work that contextualize specific Law and Literature traditions and their interactions with local legal systems and cultures of law; this has led not only to an expansion of the Law and Literature canon but also to a new critical self-reflexivity about the situatedness of the questions that Law and Literature researchers ask. Future(s) of Law and Literature concludes with a call for a de-monumentalization and de-gendering of the alleged differences between the law and literature and by advocating for comparative, culturally critical and situated research.

(Prof. Dr. Greta Olson)

Greta Olson studied at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY, at University College London and at the University of Freiburg, where she received her PhD for a work on Reading Eating Disorders: Writings on Bulimia and Anorexia as Confessions of American Culture (Peter Lang 2003) as well as the venia legendi in American and English literature and cultural studies (cf. Criminals as Animals from Shakespeare to Lombroso, De Gruyter 2013). In 2009, she became Professor of English and American literature and cultural studies at Justus Liebig University Giessen. Professor Olson is a general editor of the European Journal of English Studies (EJES), and, with Jeanne Gaakeer, the co-founder of the European Network for Law and Literature. Her research interests include Law and Literature, punitivity and security studies, critical cultural narratology, issues of posthumanism, and feminist and gender studies. Since April 2014 Greta Olson is a fellow at the Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities “Law as Culture”.

Laurent de Sutter is Senior Researcher from the Flemish Fund for Scientific Research (Fonds voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek – Vlaanderen (FWO)) and Professor for Legal Theory at Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium). He has taught at Facultés Universitaires Saint-Louis and at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. He is the author of numerous books, including, recently, Théorie du trou. Cinq méditations métaphysiques sur 'Une sale histoire' de Jean Eustache (Paris, Léo Scheer, 2013), Métaphysique de la putain(Paris, Léo Scheer, 2014) and La voie du droit (Paris, Dalloz, 2014), a translation and commentary of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.'s famous 1896 allocution The Path of the Law. He is one of the General Editors of Law and Literature, a member of the Editorial Board of Décalages, the international journal for Althusser studies, and a member of the Scientific Board of the Collège International de Philosophie, as well as the Managing Editor of the Perspectives Critiquesseries at Presses Universitaires de France, and of the Critical Edge series at Polity Press.