A Culture of Rights: Law, Literature, and Canada

By Benjamin Authers

© 2016

With the passage into law of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982, rights took on new legal, political, and social significance in Canada. In the decades following, Canadian jurisprudence has emphasised the importance of rights, determining their shape and asserting their centrality to legal ideas about what Canada represents. At the same time, an increasing number of Canadian  novels have also engaged with the language of human rights and civil liberties, reflecting, like their counterparts in law, the possibilities of rights and the failure of their protection.

In A Culture of Rights, Benjamin Authers reads novels by authors including Joy Kogawa, Margaret Atwood, Timothy Findley, and Jeanette Armstrong alongside legal texts and key constitutional rights cases, arguing for the need for a more complex, interdisciplinary understanding of the sources of rights in Canada and elsewhere. He suggests that, at present, even when rights are violated, popular insistence on Canada’s rights-driven society remains. Despite the limited scope of our rights, and the deferral of more substantive rights protections to some projected, ideal Canada, we remain keen to promote ourselves as members of an entirely just society.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 208 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.5in x 9.0in
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  • PUBLISHED MAY 2016

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Quick Overview

In A Culture of Rights, Benjamin Authers reads novels by authors including Joy Kogawa, Margaret Atwood, Timothy Findley, and Jeanette Armstrong alongside Canadian legal texts and constitutional rights cases.

A Culture of Rights: Law, Literature, and Canada

By Benjamin Authers

© 2016

With the passage into law of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982, rights took on new legal, political, and social significance in Canada. In the decades following, Canadian jurisprudence has emphasised the importance of rights, determining their shape and asserting their centrality to legal ideas about what Canada represents. At the same time, an increasing number of Canadian  novels have also engaged with the language of human rights and civil liberties, reflecting, like their counterparts in law, the possibilities of rights and the failure of their protection.

In A Culture of Rights, Benjamin Authers reads novels by authors including Joy Kogawa, Margaret Atwood, Timothy Findley, and Jeanette Armstrong alongside legal texts and key constitutional rights cases, arguing for the need for a more complex, interdisciplinary understanding of the sources of rights in Canada and elsewhere. He suggests that, at present, even when rights are violated, popular insistence on Canada’s rights-driven society remains. Despite the limited scope of our rights, and the deferral of more substantive rights protections to some projected, ideal Canada, we remain keen to promote ourselves as members of an entirely just society.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 208 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.5in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    ‘This book is a good model of interdisciplinarity – Authers succeeds in marrying the different domains of law and literature in a complex and interesting analysis.’


    G.A. McBeath
    Choice, vol 54:04:2016

    "For readers interested in delving into how the values of the Charter are represented and understood in Canadian culture, A Culture of Rights provides an excellent introduction."


    Jianna Rieder
    Saskatchewan Law Review

    "A Culture of Rights is an insightful contribution to Canadian cultural criticism and opens more space for readings of the relationship between literature and politics."


    Jeremy Haynes, McMaster University
    University of Toronto Quarterly, vol 87 3, Summer 2018

    A Culture of Rights is an important and timely book that will prompt serious rethinking about the strengths and limits of the rights revolution and of Canada’s role in its implementation. If anyone is looking for proof of the value of humanities research, then this book is it.”


    Diana Brydon, Canada Research Chair in Globalization and Cultural Studies, Department of English, Film, and Theatre, University of Manitoba
  • Author Information

    Benjamin Authers is a Lecturer in Law in the College of Business Government and Law, Flinders University, South Australia, Chief Editor, Flinders Law Journal, and President of the Association for Canadian Studies in Australia and New Zealand..
  • Table of contents

    Introduction
    Chapter One. “This is why Redress Matters”: Rights and National Belonging
    Chapter Two. Excessive Rights: Freedom of Expression and Analogies of Harm
    Chapter Three. “Nothing but the Pure, Entire, and Unblemished Truth?”: Trials, Counter Narratives, and Legal Rights
    Chapter Four. Allegory, Interpretation, and Equality Rights
    Chapter Five. “We don’t need anybody’s Constitution”: Indigenous Peoples and Resistance to Rights
    Conclusion

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