Power to Do Justice Jurisdiction, English Literature, and the Rise of Common Law, 1509-1625
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English law underwent rapid transformation in the sixteenth century, in response to the Reformation and also to heightened litigation and legal professionalization. As the common law became more comprehensive and systematic, the principle of jurisdiction came under particular strain. When the common law engaged with other court systems in England, when it encountered territories like Ireland and France, or when it confronted the ocean as a juridical space, the law revealed its qualities of ingenuity and improvisation. In other words, as Bradin Cormack argues, jurisdictional crisis made visible the law's resemblance to the literary arts." A Power to Do Justice "shows how Renaissance writers engaged the practical and conceptual dynamics of jurisdiction, both as a subject for critical investigation and as a frame for articulating literature's sense of itself. Reassessing the relation between English literature and law from More to Shakespeare, Cormack argues that where literary texts attend to jurisdiction, they dramatize how boundaries and limits are the very precondition of law's power, even as they clarify the forms of intensification that make literary space a reality. Tracking cultural responses to Renaissance jurisdictional thinking and legal centralization, "A Power to Do Justice" makes theoretical, literary-historical, and methodological contributions that set a new standard for law and the humanities and for the cultural history of early modern law and literature.
List price: $69.00
Copyright year: 2008
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 2/1/2008
Size: 6.50" wide x 9.75" long x 1.25" tall
Bradin Cormack is professor of English at the University of Chicago and coauthor of Book Use, Book Theory: 1500-1700.
|List of Illustrations|
|Note on Citations|
|Prologue: A Power to Do Justice|
|Introduction: Literature and Jurisdiction|
|"Shewe Us Your Mynde Then": Bureaucracy and Royal Privilege in Skelton's Magnyfycence|
|"No More to Medle of the Matter": Thomas More, Equity, and the Claims of Jurisdiction|
|Inconveniencing the Irish: Custom, Allegory, and the Common Law in Spenser's Ireland|
|"If We Be Conquered": Legal Nationalism and the France of Shakespeare's English Histories|
|"To Stride a Limit": Imperium, Crisis, and Accommodation in Shakespeare's Cymbeline and Pericles|
|"To Law for Our Children": Norm and Jurisdiction in Webster, Rowley, and Heywood's Cure for a Cuckold|