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Legal Emblems and the Art of Law
Obiter Depicta as the Vision of Governance

$36.99 (C)

  • Date Published: June 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107546103

$ 36.99 (C)
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About the Authors
  • The history of the legal emblem has not been written. A seemingly fortuitous invention of the humanist lawyer Andrea Alciato in 1531, the emblem book is an extraordinary pictorial turn in the early history of publishing and in the emergence of modern law. The preponderance of juridical and normative themes, of images of rule and infraction, of obedience and error in the emblem books is critical to their purpose and interest. It is no accident that the history of this highly successful scholarly genre is dominated in authorship and content by lawyers. This book is the history of the emblem tradition as a juridical genre, along with the concept of, and training in obiter depicta, in things seen along the way to judgment. It argues that these picture books of law depict norms and abuses in classically derived forms that become the visual standards of governance. Despite the plethora of vivid figures and virtual symbols that define and transmit law, contemporary lawyers are not trained in the critical apprehension of the visible. This book is the first to reconstruct the history of the emblem tradition so as to evidence the extent to which a gallery of images of law already exists and structures how the public realm is displayed, made present, and viewed.

    • This is the first book to study emblems as depictions of law
    • A novel interpretation of the symbols of justice
    • Presents a theory of visiocracy, the governance of vision
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "… a thorough work of scholarship … This is a vital thesis that gestures towards another time and towards inexhaustible movements. Without fuller appreciation of the emblem tradition, so elegantly recuperated here, the visual turn in legal scholarship will remain ill conceived and our appreciation of the possibilities of social reorganisation and subjectivity will remain static."
    Piyel Haldar, Law and Humanities

    "This study is not simply a book about legal emblems, but about the overall significance of a critical apprehension of the visible for the law. Dealing with the symbolic dimension as well as the imaginary representation of legality as part of the judicial process, Peter Goodrich surpasses well-known discussions about representational aspects … This book is a veritable treasure chest for all scholars who set about to unravel the visual regimes of the law."
    Carolin Behrmann, Journal of the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107546103
    • length: 307 pages
    • dimensions: 256 x 178 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.8kg
    • contains: 106 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Obiter depicta as an element of law
    3. Devising law: a short history of legal emblems
    4. The sovereign likes to hide: visualizing hierarchy
    5. The foolosophy of justice and the enigma of law
    6. The hand of the law and its amputation
    7. Visibilities: persons, things, actions
    8. Conclusion: virtual laws.

  • Author

    Peter Goodrich, Cardozo School of Law
    Peter Goodrich is a Professor of Law and Director of the Program in Law and Humanities, Cardozo School of Law, New York. His previous books include Reading the Law (1986), Legal Discourse (1992), Oedipus Lex (1996) and, more recently, Laws of Love (2006) and, with Christian Delage, The Scene of the Mass Crime: History, Film and International Tribunals (2012). He is also co-author and co-producer of the award-winning feature documentary Auf Wiedersehen: Til We Meet Again (Diskin Films, 2011).

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