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. 


Using the following link you can get free acces to 'Literature and the Law in South Africa 1910-2010' by Ted Laros.

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

Greta Olson,’Reading Jeanne, Reading Jeanne: A Review Essay of Jeanne Gaakeer’s Judging from Experience: Law, Praxis, Humanities’, Taylor & Francis Online

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

Related networks


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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