Sociologie, Theorie en Methodologie

European Network Law and Literature

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. 


Photo of Jeanne Gaakeer

Prof. Gaakeer published a book: “Judging from Experience. Law, Praxis, Humanities”

Professor Jeanne Gaakeer, professor of Jurisprudence: Hermeneutical and Narrative Foundations at Erasmus School of Law, published a monograph Judging from Experience. Law, Praxis, Humanitieswith Edinburgh University Press. The book forms part of Law and Literature and/or, more broadly, Law and Humanities, the interdisciplinary movement in legal theory that focuses on the various bonds of law, language, and literature. It presents a view on the law as a humanistic discipline that is inspired by the movement’s original, European roots.

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The Transforming Power of Cultural Rights. A Promising Law and Humanities Approach. Helle Porsdam. University of Copenhagen

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Cover of the book: Transforming Power of Cultural Rights

Groningen Summer School - Law, Literature and Human Rights | 15 - 19 July

Can we say that lawyers and writers share the same meaning of human rights? Is there such a thing as a common language of human rights? How can we prevent the danger of human rights
being lost in the collision of different frameworks of their representation in language? How can literature help us in understanding human rights as a legal and political phenomenon?

With these questions in mind, this summer school strives for considering the limits and potentialities of both law and literature as two different ways of human rights representation. What kind of experiences do these discourses engage and what audience do they want to address and impact on?

More information:

Call for Papers

Dublin City University - 'Law and Literature: The Irish Case' | 6 April 2019

Literature and the law have lived in each other’s shadows, have been indebted to each other even, since their very beginnings.  Indeed, they speak to each other, and speak of each other, in ways that suggest a knowing commonality.  Each, after all, is engaged in shaping the material of the world into something more known and knowable, for a deeper understanding of human actions and their motivations.  Each functions through a special relationship with language and its effects. As Kieran Dolin puts it, ‘the law can only be articulated in words. While the order of a court will be imposed on the body or the property of the parties to the case, it will originally have been spoken as a sentence’. To the scholar Martha Nussbaum, literature’s ability to enable us ‘to imagine one another with empathy and compassion’ makes it a necessary part of a humanely functioning legal system. The exact nature of the relationship between law and literature, however, with all its social and political complexities, remains a contested space. This contested space is all too literal in modern Ireland, an island whose two official (and other, unofficial) legal and constitutional systems and two official languages have meant that the ways in which both law and literature structure reality through language have, historically, been far from straightforward.


We invite 20-minute panel papers for presentation at this one-day symposium. While the focus is primarily on the Irish context, the organisers would welcome comparative papers as well. We welcome papers from practising and academic lawyers as well as literary scholars.


Organisers: Eugene McNulty (Dublin City University) and Adam Hanna (UCC)


Confirmed keynote speakers: Professor Margaret Kelleher (School of English, UCD) | Dr Tom Hickey (School of Law and Government, DCU) | Dr Heather Laird (School of English, UCC)


More information / Call for papers: The call for papers is at this link. We will be accepting submissions for 20-minute panel papers until 28 February 2019.

Call for Papers

University of Sheffield – Literature, Law and Psychoanalysis’ | 11 – 13 April 2019


Katherine Ebury

Katherine Ebury is Senior Lecturer in Modern Literature at the University of Sheffield. Her research interests include life-writing, modernism, psychoanalysis and law and literature. Her first monograph, Modernism and Cosmology, appeared in 2014, and she is the co-editor of Joyce’s Non-Fiction Writings: Outside His Jurisfiction (Palgrave, 2018). Her articles have appeared in journals such as Irish Studies Review, Joyce Studies Annual and Society and Animals. She has just commenced an AHRC-funded project on the death penalty, literature and psychoanalysis from 1900-1950, which is running from 2018-2020.

Confirmed Keynote Speakers

Ravit Reichman

Ravit Reichman is Associate Professor of English at Brown University, where she works at the intersection of literature, law, and psychoanalysis. Her first book, The Affective Life of Law: Legal Modernism and the Literary Imagination (Stanford, 2009) examines law and literature in the context of the world wars. She is currently working on a study of property’s cultural and psychological life, Lost Properties of the Twentieth Century, which offers a genealogy of the propertied imagination, beginning with more conventional notions of property and ending in ideas of property restitution as a vehicle for justice. Her articles on affect and law, colonial jurisprudence, capital punishment, and counterfactual life, as well as on writers like Albert Camus, Virginia Woolf, and James Joyce, have been published in a range of journals and volumes. She has been a Fulbright Scholar, a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and a Howard Foundation Fellow.

Lizzie Seal

Lizzie Seal is Reader in Criminology at University of Sussex. Her monograph Capital Punishment in Twentieth-Century Britain: Audience, Justice, Memory is a cultural history of the death penalty focusing on its place in everyday life. It explores topics including capital punishment as entertainment, popular abolitionist campaigns, the impact and significance of high profile miscarriages of justice and their significance in the post-abolition era and argues capital punishment had a contested and ambivalent place in British culture. Her current project, ‘Race, Racialisation and the Death Penalty in England and Wales, 1900-65’ is funded by the Leverhulme Trust (RPG-2016-352). This is interdisciplinary and draws on both history and criminology to explore the overrepresentation of Black and other minority ethnic (BME) people among those executed in twentieth-century England and Wales. Through examining all cases of BME people sentenced to death, we examine how prosecutions for murder were in practice made racist through analysing the significance of racist stereotypes and racialised interpretations of defendants’ behaviour. In addition to highlighting racism in the criminal justice system, we research the everyday lives of BME people sentenced to death in the twentieth century. Lizzie is the author of Women, Murder and Femininity: Gender Representations of Women Who Kill (Palgrave, 2010) and, with Maggie O’Neill, Transgressive Imaginations: Crime, Deviance and Culture (Palgrave, 2012), as well as several journal articles.

Victoria Stewart

Victoria Stewart is Reader in Modern and Contemporary Literature at the University of Leicester. She has published widely on twentieth and twenty-first century writing and has a particular interest in the representation of the Second World War, including the Holocaust, in both fiction and autobiography. Her book Women’s Autobiography: War and Trauma (Palgrave, 2003) considered the work of writers including Vera Brittain, Virginia Woolf and Anne Frank from the perspective of trauma theory. Narratives of Memory: British Writing of the 1940s (Palgrave, 2006) examined a range of novels and short fiction from this decade, focusing in particular on their depiction of the processes of memory. The Second World War in Contemporary British Fiction: Secret Histories (Edinburgh University Press, 2011) explored the use of secrecy as both a trope and a narrative device in recent fictional treatments of the war. Her latest book, Crime Writing in Interwar Britain: Fact and Fiction in the Golden Age (Cambridge University Press, 2017)examines the relationship between true-crime narratives and detective fiction in the mid-twentieth century. Victoria's new project, ‘Crimes and War Crimes’, considers the effect of existing discourse about crime and criminality on the representation and understanding of war crimes in 1940s and 1950s Britain.

Call For Papers

The twentieth-century was a period of worldwide literary experiment, of scientific developments and of worldwide conflict. These changes demanded a rethinking not merely of psychological subjectivity, but also of what it meant to be subject to the law and to punishment. This two-day conference aims to explore relationships between literature, law and psychoanalysis during the period 1890-1950, allowing productive mixing of canonical and popular literature and also encouraging interdisciplinary conversations between different fields of study.

The period examined by the conference included: developments in Freudian psychoanalysis and its branching in other directions; the founding of criminology; continuing campaigns and reforms around the death penalty; landmark modernist publications; the ‘Golden Age’ of detective fiction; and multiple sensational trials (Wilde, Crippen, Casement, Leopold and Loeb, to name but a few). Freud’s followers, like Theodor Reik and Hans Sachs, would publish work on criminal law and the death penalty; psychoanalysts were sought after as expert witnesses; novelists like Elizabeth Bowen would serve on a Royal Commission investigating capital punishment; while Gladys Mitchell invented the character of Beatrice Adela Lestrange Bradley as a literary detective-psychoanalyst.

We therefore hope to consider areas including literature’s connection with historical debates around crime and punishment; literature and authors on trial and/or on the ‘psychiatrist's couch’; and literature’s effect on debates about human rights. The event is linked to and partly supported by an AHRC project on literature, psychoanalysis and the death penalty, but the aim of this conference is much wider. Interdisciplinary approaches, especially from fields such as psychoanalysis, philosophy, law or the visual arts, are particularly encouraged. We also welcome papers on international legal systems and texts. All responses are welcome and the scope of our interdisciplinary interests is flexible, with room in the planned programme for strands of work that might be more or less literary.

Possible topics might include:

  1. psychoanalysis in the real or literary courtroom;
  2. literary form and the insanity defence;
  3. canonical authors as readers of crime fiction and vice versa;
  4. censorship cases;
  5. the influence of famous legal cases on literary productions or on psychoanalytic theory;
  6. influences of criminology and criminal psychology on literature;
  7. representations of new execution methods (for example, the gas chamber and the electric chair);
  8. portrayals of restorative versus retributive justice;
  9. literary responses to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
  10. relationships between modernism and Critical Legal Studies (CLS).

Please send 250 word paper proposals or 300 word proposals for fully formed panels to by 28th November 2018.


Beyond Gender: An Advanced Introduction to Futures of Feminist and Sexuality Studies

The Politics of Form

How to Do Things with Narrative

Introductory Law and Literature Bibliography

Law and Literature Bibliography Greta Olson & Jeanne Gaakeer:

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

External Links

Italian Society for Law and Literature

Nordic Network for Law and Literature

AIDEL (Associazione Italiana di Diritto e Letteratura)

Digitales Fundheft "Literatur und Recht", Edition 2011 Lorenz Franck


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