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Shakespeare and the Law


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About the Author

Bradin Cormack is professor of English and director of the Nicholson Center for British Studies; Martha C. Nussbaum is the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor in the Law School, the Department of Philosophy, and the Divinity School; and Richard Strier is the Frank L. Sulzberger Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of English and in the College, all at the University of Chicago.


"Shakespeare and the Law is true to its word. This collection is filled with captivating and often convincing claims about not just the brooding omnipresence but also the moral necessity of law to Shakespeare's characters, their fate, and the quality of justice depicted and dispensed in the plays, as well as in Shakespeare's own life and in our own world. The essays provide an education, while the transcribed conversation that closes the volume, with a guest appearance by Justice Stephen Breyer, is an illuminating and delightful denouement."
--Robin West, Georgetown University
"The main title of this excellent volume--Shakespeare and the Law--is too modest. The subtitle--A Conversation among Disciplines and Professions--is more accurate. A collection of brilliant conversationalists, taking law and literature as baseline frames of reference, explores the intersections of literary texts, jurisprudential conundrums, problems in the philosophy of language, the imperatives of morality, the abyss of history, the perils of statecraft, the legitimacy of authority, and the deep waters of race and gender. Always, however, the conversation returns to works of literature, with even the lawyers and judges acknowledging that the pleasures of the text exceed the (considerable) pleasures of analysis. Riches abound, but I must single out Martha Nussbaum's weaving together of Julius Caesar (both historical person and character), Gandhi's India, George Washington's self-presentation, and the lessons imparted to her by her father on the way to a startling but inevitable and earned conclusion: 'Shakespeare's Julius Caesar is a misleading, even a dangerous work.'"-- "Stanley Fish"
"This splendid collection of essays embraces dramaturgical, legal-historical, legal-philosophical, and formal and linguistic approaches to the question of Shakespeare and the law. Although the Shakespeare we meet here is suspicious of the law's formalisms, a world without law is no utopia in his plays. Instead Shakespeare seeks out and celebrates the forms of equity that might qualify and contextualize the letter of the law in order to explore the forms of civility and fellowship through which human beings resolve conflicts and build worlds. Funny, informative, fast-moving, and smart, this book is both a pleasure to read and a resource to savor and share."
--Julia Reinhard Lupton, author of Thinking with Shakespeare
"A kaleidoscopic feature of the book that emerges . . . is a natural result of the rich and varied interpretations of the thinkers', professors', judges', and experts' different institutional and disciplinary considerations."
-- "Sixteenth Century Journal"
"Offers insights into Shakespeare, culture, and law. The contributors are experts in their fields; they speak with authority when need be and with humor when called for."
-- "Federal Lawyer"

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