European Network Law and Literature

Sociology, Theory en Methodology

The European Network for Law and Literature Scholarship has been founded as a vehicle for increasing communication and cooperation between individuals working on related topics within Europe. Founded by a judge and law professor working in the Netherlands and a literary scholar in Germany, this network aims to embrace the variety of disciplines and languages its participants work in as potential sources of scholarly richness and innovation.

About the network

It is our belief that work on Law and Literature in Europe can develop a profile that more clearly reflects and articulates the cultural identities and legal backgrounds of its participants. Specific goals of this network are to

  • Promote Law and Literature within the European context and to increase communication between scholars
  • To reflect on and thematize possible differences between European Law and Literature work and that of Anglo-American scholars (such differences might include different foci due to backgrounds in adversarial or inquisitorial law systems and related legal cultures)
  • To meet to exchange ideas, work, and viewpoints
  • To use this platform as a forum for discussion
  • To encourage comparative work as well as research on non-canonical texts and genres

We invite you to make this network a platform for announcements about Law and Literature activities and to use it as a place to introduce your ideas. Networks of Law and Literature scholars already exist in the Scandinavian countries, in Italy, France, and Britain. We wish not to compete with these groups but to add to them by placing an emphasis on transnational and cross-linguistic scholarly efforts. The Network is an initiative of Jeanne Gaakeer, professor at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, and Greta Olson, professor at the Justus-Liebig Universität Giessen. If you would like to know more about the European Network for Law and Literature, please get in touch with Jeanne Gaakeer or Greta Olson.

A Dialogue on Law and Literature

Since 2005, Jeanne Gaakeer and Greta Olson have been in a dialogue about the futures, prospects, and limits of Law and Literature. Our mutual interest in encouraging Law and Literature scholarship in Europe led us to found the European Network for Law and Literature Research in 2007.

Jeanne, a professor of legal theory at the Erasmus School of Rotterdam and a judge on the Appellate Court in The Hague (criminal law section), approaches the subject from the perspective of a legal practitioner who would like to see the study of law and literature integrated into judges' training, whereas Greta, a professor of English and American Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Giessen in Germany, approaches Law and Literature from the framework of critical theory and historiography. 

Greta published a comparative study on Law and Literature scholarship in the United States, the UK, and Germany in 2010  (“De-Americanizing Law and Literature Narratives,” Law & Literature 22.1), and Jeanne responded to this article in her 2012 essay for Helle Porsdam and Thomas Elholm's edited volume, Dialogues on Justice: European Perspectives on Law and Humanities (Law and Literature Series, Berlin and New York: De Gruyter). In the same volume, Greta was given the opportunity to respond to some of the criticisms of and feedback on the 2010 essay she had been given, including that of Jeanne. 


Call for Papers from the Faculty of Law and Administration of Szczecin University, Poland for the International Seminar "Law and Emotions in William Shakespeare" which will be held on 18 and 19 June 2024 in Szczecin. The seminar will be hybrid; some papers will be delivered at the university but  we also welcome papers on Zoom. Our aim is to provide a forum to discuss the affinities between law, emotions and literature . Papers will be published in the journal  "Rocznik Komparatystyczny" 2024. 


Organisers Maciej Jońca and Katarzyna Jaworska-Biskup,University of Szczecin


Wednesday 8 November

Frederic Schwartz (University College London), Lustmord: Images of Violence and the Legal Contours of the Public Sphere in Weimar Germany

Start 10:00 (09:00h BST / 20:00 Melbourne time - AEDT)

Further details, including registration link

Monday 13 November

Birgit Lang (University of Melbourne), Between Education and Promotion: Sex, Power and Visual Culture at the Great Police Exhibition (1926) in Weimar Germany
Start 09:00 (08:00h BST / 19:00 Melbourne time - AEDT)

Further details, including registration link

The Relevance of Affect to the Development of Law in Pluralistic Legal Cultures. Die Relevanz des Affektiven für die Rechtsentwicklung in pluralen Rechtskulturen
Herausgegeben von Prof. Dr. Thorsten Keiser, LL.M., Prof. Dr. Greta Olson und Prof. Dr. Franz Reimer

Call for papers: The Cultural Techniques of Law (17-19 January 2024) University of Helsinki, Finland

Convenors: Matilda Arvidsson (Gothenburg), Tormod Johansen (Gothenburg), and Panu Minkkinen (Helsinki). Workshop assistant: Rakel Jylhä-Vuorio (Helsinki).

Keynote speaker: Professor Markus Krajeksi (Basel)

Deadline for paper proposals: 16 June 2023

In the Anglophone world, German legal historian and critical legal theorist Cornelia Vismann (1961–2010) is best known as an innovative interpreter of French high theory, especially of Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, and Michel Foucault. This type of reception is, however, limited in the sense that at the same time as it tries to establish common ground that would enable Vismann to take part in the discursive constellations of Anglo-American legal theory, it also neglects the very specifically German media-theoretical soil from which her scholarship arose. For Vismann the media theorist, the critical study of law addressed law’s operations as media and ‘cultural techniques’.

Working towards an edited collection and/or a special issue of a journal, the main aims of this pluridisciplinary event (social sciences, humanities, creative industries, fine arts) are, among other things:

- to investigate Vismann’s media-theoretical contributions and to assess their relevance for the study of law;

- to examine the same potential in the work of other prominent media theorists such as Wolfgang Ernst, Friedrich A. Kittler, Markus Krajewski, Sybille Krämer, Jussi Parikka, Bernhard Siegert, Anna Tuschling, Geoffrey Winthrop-Young, and others;

- to encourage synergy between scholars in the various disciplines; and, finally

- to assess what these media-theoretical insights might offer the critical study of law more generally.

Participation is free, but accepted speakers are expected to cover their own travel and accommodation costs. Limited financial support is available for early-career scholars who are not funded by their home institutions.

For more information including a link to the e-form with which to submit your paper proposal, kindly see:
CfP: The Cultural Techniques of Law (17-19 January 2024)

Call for Submissions for a Workshop and Essay Collection

Literary Property in America: Claims, Creativity, Copyright

Across numerous disciplines, scholars continue to grapple with property as a central organizing feature of North American culture, past and present. Definitions of property thus range from ownership over tangible as well as intangible objects and proprietary rights to understanding property as a holistic system that shapes an array of social, cultural, and economic relations. Such a system is subject to the law. However, literature has been instrumental in (re)shaping legal conceptions of property while simultaneously constituting an intangible form of property itself. Literary forms such as the antebellum slave narrative, for instance, were key in abolishing property regimes of enslavement. And over the course of the long nineteenth century, American writers and publishers were mobilizing new politics of authorship to claim creative labor as “literary property” by law.

As members of the Collaborative Research Center “Law and Literature” we adopt and adapt the term “literary property” to investigate historical and contemporary dynamics between property and literature. When, where, and how does literature become recognized as property––and by whom? How do different strands of literature aesthetically and politically engage with questions of ownership? How are competing notions of creativity—as individual or collective cultural property––negotiated in legal discourses and larger public debates? Under what circumstances is copyright understood as protection, property, or as complicit with exploitative, oppressive structures?

 We scrutinize these questions in an interdisciplinary workshop, taking place in person at Osnabrück University on May 12–May 13, 2023, where we offer invited input and discuss all submitted essays. We plan on submitting the finalized contributions as an essay collection to De Gruyter’s Law & Literature series. The essay collection will be edited by Cedric Essi, Fenja Heisig and Debora Stanca and published in 2023.

While we are particularly interested in the general concept of literary property in America, we welcome theoretical contributions as well as transnational approaches to property from a variety of disciplines, methodological angles, and historical time frames. 

Contributions can focus on but are not limited to the following questions:   

  • In what ways is literary property embedded in larger regimes of property as a system of social relations?  
  • How are legal and cultural conceptions of literary property informed by regimes of race, gender, class and sexuality?  
  • How is literary property connected to other (in)tangible forms of property?   
  • How did the formation of literary property prefigure modern forms of copyright, patent, and IP law?  
  • Since property is deeply connected to questions of citizenship, what does literary property, in particular, tell us about the (re)making of citizenship in America?  
  • How is literary property entangled with questions of settler colonialism, enslavement and their ongoing aftermath?   

To apply for the workshop and publication, please send an abstract of 300 words, double-spaced, along with a one-page CV in one pdf to by January 30, 2023. The abstract should outline your plans for a full-length article, to be discussed in the workshop. You will receive a response within two weeks. Full manuscripts of 6000-7000 words will be due on May 1, 2023. We provide and cover accommodation for all participants. We will also offer travel grants (dependent on distance and location). A limited number of travel grants are available. To apply for a travel grant, please include a short explanation (2–3 sentences) at the end of your statement of purpose. All applicants are strongly encouraged to seek funding from their home institutions.

Jeanne Gaakeer has been appointed as Adjunct Professor at the School of Law and Justice of Southern Cross University, Australia, for three years.

German Research Foundation approves nine million euros for a Collaborative Research Centre on "Law and Literature''.

A great success for the University of Münster: the German Research Foundation (DFG) will fund for a new Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) at the University with nine million euros. The large-scale project, to be called “Law and Literature”, will start on July 1 of this year, initially for four years. The special feature of this project is its interdisciplinary nature, with the Faculty of Philology and the Faculty of Law having joint responsibility for the CRC. Prof. Klaus Stierstorfer from the Department of English is the spokesperson and Prof. Fabian Wittreck from the Institute of Public Law and Politics is his deputy. Further partners in the project are the Institute of American Studies at the University of Osnabrück and the Department of Financial Administration at the University of Applied Administrative Sciences (Fachhochschule des Bundes) in Münster.

“Does the law need literature?” and “Does literature need the law?” – these are two key questions which researchers will examine in the planned CRC. In future, researchers in the fields of literary studies and law will be working together much more intensively than has so far been the case in Germany. “This new CRC,” says Klaus Stierstorfer, “will mean that Münster University will become an important hub for a growing and – especially for Europe – highly important field of research. For this purpose, a large number of junior researchers will be trained at our location here in an integrated Research Training Group, which will have a decisive influence on the future direction of this line of research.”

Systematic research into the relationship between the two disciplines will mean that a series of fundamental questions relating to law and to literature, to the fields of study dealing with them, and to their social and cultural importance, can be reframed, and research can be undertaken from a new angle. The work carried out so far by each of the two disciplines on the key questions thrown up by the other has remained fragmentary, says Stierstorfer. Academic or scientific reflection on the content, processes and forms of articulation relating to normative and aesthetic values is important – not least with regard to the heated debates on fact and fiction or on the disappearance of classical media and the emergence of areas of communication outside the reach of the law. The research topics to be studied can subsequently become useful for a number of other disciplines such as sociology, political science, anthropology, history or economics.

Collaborative Research Centres are long-term university-based research institutions, established for up to 12 years, which are funded by the German Research Foundation. They make it possible for work to be done on innovative and demanding research projects. Including this latest project, there are currently eight Collaborative Research Centres which are either located at the University of Münster or in which the University is the leading


Recent developments in Law and Literature research: the bibliography expanded:

External Links

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European Network for Law and Literature
Erasmus University Rotterdam
att. to: Professor Jeanne Gaakeer, room W-L-6-121
PO Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam
the Netherlands
Telephone: +31-10-4082682

Professor Greta Olson
Institut für Anglistik
Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen
Otto-Behagel-Straße 10 B
35394 Giessen 

Law and Literature Anthologies

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