Taking Exception to the Law: Materializing Injustice in Early Modern English Literature
Taking Exception to the Law explores how a range of early modern English writings responded to injustices perpetrated by legal procedures, discourses, and institutions. From canonical poems and plays to crime pamphlets and educational treatises, the essays engage with the relevance and wide appeal of legal questions in order to understand how literature operated in the early modern period.
Justice in its many forms – legal, poetic, divine, natural, and customary – is examined through insightful and innovative analyses of a number of texts, including The Merchant of Venice, The Faerie Queene, and Paradise Lost. A major contribution to the growing field of law and literature, this collection offers cultural contexts, interpretive insights, and formal implications for the entire field of English Renaissance culture.
- World Rights
- Page Count: 288 pages
- Illustrations: 6
- Dimensions: 6.5in x 1.2in x 9.4in
Choice Magazine, vol 52:12:2015
‘The volume takes its place among lively and rapidly expanding scholarship on early modern law and literature… Such a survey can do little, of course, to give a full sense of the richness of the volume but perhaps can tantalize readers with the variety of texts and breadth of concepts the authors tackle.’
Renaissance Quarterly vol 69:02:2016
‘The editors gather an admirable selection of essays from a range of scholars….Taking Exception to the Law provokes stimulating conversation between legal and literary sources.’
Sixteenth Century Studies vol 47:02:2016
‘Taking Exception to the Law certainly illuminates the networks of literary actors, both non-human and human, that exert power in early modern English law.’
English Studies in Canada vol 42:3-4:2016
“Organized around an elegantly theorized vision of literature as positioned to ‘take exception to’ the law and legal institutions to which it nevertheless remains immanent, this volume presents a collection of essays by several of the foremost scholars working in the field of literature and law in the early modern period. Hardly merely another collection, this volume presents original, advanced recent work in early modern law, literature, and culture, together with a fine introduction by Grant Williams that at once summarizes and advances the state of the field. Necessary reading for those interested in the field and, indeed, for those interested in early modern English literature and culture generally.”
Luke Wilson, Department of English, The Ohio State University
Author InformationDonald Beecher is a professor in the Department of English at Carleton University.
Travis DeCook is an associate professor in the Department of English at Carleton University.
Andrew Wallace is an associate professor in the Department of English at Carleton University.
Grant Williams is an associate professor in the Department of English at Carleton University.
Table of contents
1. Law and the Production of Literature: An Introductory Perspective (Grant Williams)
2. Paper Justice, Parchment Justice: Shakespeare, Hamlet, and the Life of Legal Documents (Bradin Cormack)
3. Conditional Promises and Legal Instruments in The Merchant of Venice (Tim Stretton)
4. The “Snared Subject” and the General Pardon Statute in Late Elizabethan Coterie Literature (Virginia Lee Strain)
5. The Prison Diaries of Archbishop Laud (Debora Shuger)
6. Criminal Biography in Early Modern News Pamphlets (David Stymeist)
7. Two-Sided Legal Narratives: Slander, Evidence, Proof, and Turnarounds in Much Ado About Nothing (Barbara Kreps)
8. No Boy Left Behind: Education and Distributive Justice in Early Modern England (Elizabeth Hanson)
9. Warding off Injustice in Book Five of The Faerie Queene (Judith Owens)
10. Torture and the Tyrant’s Injustice from Foxe to King Lear (John D. Staines)
11. The Literatures of Toleration and Civil Religion in Post-Revolutionary England (Elliott Visconsi)
12. Obnoxious Satan: Milton, Neo-Roman Justice, and the Burden of Grace (Paul Stevens)
Subjects and Courses