Taking exception to the law : materializing injustice in early modern English literatureDonald Beecher, Travis DeCook, Andrew Wallace, and Grant Williams (Eds.)
University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 2015, 288 pp
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.
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)
Donald 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.