Seminar:  Subversive Legacies: Law, Literature and Repetition

Presented by Professor Marianne Constable

Date:   Thursday 7 December, 2017

Time:   4:30 - 6:30pm

Venue: Building 67, Room 202, University of Wollongong 

Drawing on law and on literature, I will discuss how repetition, as textual figure of speech and as practice, enables both possibilities of change and of resistance to change. Reiterating the past transforms the present and subverts it, through mechanisms that may be conducive, on the one hand, to learning new habits (routines, skill, expertise) and, on the other, to the entrenchment of old harms and embedding of trauma. Examples will include: issues of appropriation surrounding a short story by Borges; the way different stories of domestic violence emerge from recognition of "patterns" of abuse; and the strange case of semantic saturation. In the seminar at Wollongong, I will focus most on the "gender" and domestic violence example, which comes from research I am doing on the history of the "new unwritten law" in the US at the turn-of-the-century (19th to 20th).

Marianne Constable is Professor of Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley and author of The Law of the Other: The Mixed Jury and Changing Conceptions of Citizenship, Law and Knowledge (winner of the Law & Society Association J. Willard Hurst Prize in Legal History); Just Silences: The Limits and Possibilities of Modern Law (Princeton University Press); and Our Word is Our Bond: How Legal Speech Acts (Stanford University Press). She is currently working on two book-length projects: one on women who killed their husbands and got away with it under what was dubbed “the new unwritten law”; the other on learning and language in the written philosophical dialogue.

As Marianne's publications on law in fields ranging from political science to literature, from anthropology to legal philosophy, show, she is committed to the study of law in its broadest sense. Marianne earned her B.A. in political science and philosophy, her JD, and her Ph.D. in Jurisprudence & Social Policy, from Berkeley. Marianne was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton in 2005-6, taught a short course on law and language at Melbourne University in 2012, and was Lenore Annenberg and Wallis Annenberg Fellow in Communication at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, during 2014-15. In spring 2014, Marianne co-convened a Townsend Center Strategic Working Group on Law and Humanities at Berkeley, from which a co-edited volume -- Looking for Law in All the Wrong Places -- will appear. She is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, including the James Boyd White Award from Law, Culture and the Humanities (2011), the Sarlo (graduate) Mentoring Award (2009) and an Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award (2002). She was awarded the Zaffaroni Family Chair in Undergraduate Education 2009-2014 and chaired the Rhetoric Department for 4 years. Her approaches to law, language and learning are informed in part through her training as a certified Feldenkrais Method (R) practitioner.


Last reviewed: 24 August, 2018