July 15, 2004

Legal/Literary Fantasies

by PG

If you could be in a small-group book discussion with any ONE of these professors, which would it be?

David Anderson - John Grisham, The Last Juror
Mitchell Berman - John Tucker, May God Have Mercy
Philip Bobbitt - Tom Stoppard, Arcadia
Jane Cohen and Larry Sager - William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice
William Forbath - as yet unknown BOOK ON TERRORISM
Jack Getman - Herman Melville, Bartleby the Scrivener
Lino Graglia - Archibald Cox, The Role of the Supreme Court in American Government
Terri LeClercq - Gerald Stern, Buffalo Creek Disaster
Brian Leiter - Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
John Robertson - Sophocles, Antigone (Paul Woodruff, trans.)
M. Michael Sharlot - Bernard Schlink, The Reader
Louise Weinberg - Barry Unsworth, Pascali's Island
Patrick Woolley - Anthony Lewis, Make No Law

My own prejudices:

I'm skeptical of Anderson's choice, as I haven't read Grisham for several years because I felt that he was producing books that were really just meant to be movies. I'm familiar with neither Prof. Berman nor with Tucker; ditto Prof. LeClercq and Stern, Prof. Weinberg and Unsworth.

Stoppard is my favorite late 20th century playwright, and I've already read Arcadia for a drama class, and seen its second act performed. On the other hand, Merchant of Venice is one of my favorite Shakespearean works -- I took my AIM name from the heroine -- and I met Prof. Sager briefly at last year's Rawls conference, which leads me to think that we're going to be looking for underenforcement in MoV. Would a contract calling for a pound of flesh really be enforced, etc.

I haven't heard of Forbath to remember him, but a book on terrorism would have the obvious topical advantage... I wonder if, in light of Abu Ghraib, it will be Dershowitz's book.

Bartleby is the only Melville I've been able to finish (probably because it's so short), but I really do like it; I once wrote a paper about it and Stephen King's Bag of Bones. Archibald Cox passed recently; having been special prosecutor for Watergate, he likely had some worthwhile thoughts on the Supreme Court and constitutional crises.

Leiter and Freud are too notorious to mention. Antigone may be my favorite of classical drama, though I actually prefer Anouilh's version, and I'd like to meet Prof. Robertson, having "fisked" his views on assisted reproductive technologies back in bioethics classes.

The Reader was on my To-Be-Read list some time ago, so this could be a good opportunity to do so. Anthony Lewis is a former New York Times columnist who still makes an occasional contribution, most recently on the subject of the Court's decisions in the detainee cases. His better known book is Gideon's Trumpet.

July 15, 2004 03:09 PM | TrackBack

I skipped storytime last year, but I'd probably go with the Merchant of Venice. Sager is a really big brain in a really nice guy, and I think that Professor Cohen is fantastic, which is why I spend an hour every day looking at the course schedule to see if her seminar has opened up yet. Also, you don't really want to have to read something new for this, do you? ;)

Posted by: wingsandvodka at July 15, 2004 04:39 PM

I'm afraid I already got hooked into going to Bobbitt's Arcadia.

Posted by: Ryan at July 15, 2004 05:52 PM

If I may be so rude as to inquire, is this for an actual exercise or is this just idle fantasizing?

Posted by: Craig at July 15, 2004 06:24 PM

PG, I assume that your posting means you picked UT, so I'll see you there.

After looking through the list and reading about the books, I think I might go with The Reader, since it sounds interesting. But, at any rate, they all sound like decent reads.

Posted by: Esther at July 15, 2004 08:12 PM

This may sound overly pragmatic, but, thinking back to a similar class that I took in law school, you should think about possible signaling effects.

That is, ignoring for a moment the professor qua professor and the text qua text, what sorts of students would elect to be in a class with a given professor and a given text?

To some extent, this is a redundant exercise; if you like students like yourself, pick what you like and you'll probably end up in a class with similar students. But I do think that the signaling effect is a possible way of analyzing the choice you face.

Posted by: Craig at July 16, 2004 12:26 PM
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