Doing Law and Rhetoric
Peter Campbell, University of Pittsburgh
Anjali Vats, Boston College
What characterizes scholarship in the area of study called “law and rhetoric”? Who do we identify as legal rhetoric scholars and how do we identify their work as such? What is it about their choice of objects of study, theoretical frameworks, or methodological practices that marks them as legal rhetorical critics? Given the distinctive languages and practices of legal institutions, how do legal rhetoric scholars ensure their work is theoretically consistent with the worldly operations of law, and also evidences methodological rigor? What “field methods” and/or areas of “expertise” are necessary for legal rhetorical inquiry and which are not? In this workshop, we will seek answers to these questions: as a means of mapping law and rhetoric as an area of study; understanding the varied forms and shapes that legal rhetorical projects might take; formulating key questions necessary to discern the exigence, scope, and audience of law and rhetoric projects; introducing participants to methodological toolboxes that they do–and don’t–need in order to complete the legal rhetorical projects they envision; and articulating research practices that characterize rigorous scholarship in law and rhetoric. In addressing these issues, we presume that law and rhetoric is an evolving area of study in which scholars engage a variety of texts, theories, and methods.
Participants and workshop leaders will prepare for the workshop by composing short, 5-6 page position papers addressing these questions (ideally through hermeneutics of identity, justice, and power), using contemporary readings in legal rhetorical scholarship from a workshop syllabus. These papers should include a short abstract of a legal rhetorical work-in-progress, and undertake discussion of key questions the author faces related to their project’s scope, texts, audience, and methods. In this discussion, participants should attempt to articulate the specifically legal and rhetorical theoretical contribution their work has the potential to make within and outside the discipline of rhetoric.
Prior to the workshop, we will circulate a few readings which represent myriad aspects of legal rhetorical study. These readings will be selected from the work of contemporary legal rhetorical scholars, including Brian Amsden, Peter Campbell, Karma Chávez, Celeste Michelle Condit, J. David Cisneros, Ebony Coletu, Marianne Constable, Danielle Endres, Lisa Flores, Marouf Hasian, Annie Hill, James Jasinski, Catherine Langford, John Louis Lucaites, Sara McKinnon, Francis Mootz, Kent Ono, Ersula Ore, Maegan Parker-Brooks, Clark Rountree, John Sloop, Anjali Vats, ML Veden, Darrel Wanzer, Isaac West, and Morris Young. Participants will receive also a bibliography and legal research guide at the conclusion of the workshop.
Questions should be directed to Anjali Vats, firstname.lastname@example.org.