Tuesday, March 21, 2017 - 12:30pm to 1:45pm
Solarium (room FA2) Falconer Hall - 84 Queen's Park

Critical Analysis of Law Workshop Series


Christopher N. Warren
Carnegie Melon University 

History, Literature, and Authority in International Law 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017
12:30 – 2:00
Solarium (room FA2), Falconer Hall
84 Queen’s Park 

One consequence of international law’s recent historical turn has been to sharpen methodological contrasts between intellectual history and international law.  Scholars including Antony Anghie, Anne Orford, Rose Parfitt, and Martii Koskenniemi have taken on board historians’ interest in contingency and context but pointedly relaxed historians’ traditional stricture against presentist instrumentalism. This essay argues that such a move disrupts a longstanding division of labor between history and international law and ultimately brings international legal method closer to literature and literary scholarship.  The essay therefore details several more or less endemic ways in which literature and literary studies confront challenges of presentism, anachronism, meaning, and time.  Using examples from writers as diverse as Anghie, Spinoza, Geoffrey Hill, Emily St. John Mandel, China Miéville, John Hollander, Pascale Casanova, Matthew Nicholson, John Selden, Shakespeare, and Dante, it proposes a “trilateral” discussion among historians, international lawyers, and literary scholars that takes seriously the multipolar disciplinary field in which each of these disciplines makes and sustains relations with each of the others.  

Christopher Warren is Associate Professor of Literary and Cultural Studies at Carnegie Mellon University and author of Literature and the Law of Nations, 1580-1680, which was published by Oxford University Press and was awarded the 2016 Roland H. Bainton Prize for Literature by the Sixteenth Century Society.  His articles have appeared in journals including Humanity, Law, Culture, and the Humanities, and The European Journal of International Law.  His current book project is a study called Distant Reading the ODNB, which uses digital methods to study biographies of elite Britons from the Roman Empire to the present.     

For more workshop information, please contact Nadia Gulezko at n.gulezko@utoronto.ca