Signs In Law - A Source Book

The Semiotics of Law in Legal Education III

  • Jan M. Broekman
  • Larry Catá Backer

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xviii
  2. Introduction: Reading Semiotics

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Jan M. Broekman, Larry Catá Backer
      Pages 3-20
    3. Jan M. Broekman, Larry Catá Backer
      Pages 21-24
  3. From Legal Significs to Legal Semiotics

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 25-25
    2. Jan M. Broekman, Larry Catá Backer
      Pages 27-30
    3. Frederik van Eeden
      Pages 31-39
    4. Lady Victoria Welby
      Pages 43-49
    5. Jan M. Broekman, Larry Catá Backer
      Pages 51-53
    6. Jacob Israël De Haan
      Pages 55-71
  4. Godfathers of Semiotics—Welby, Peirce, Greimas, Lacan

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 87-87
    2. Jan M. Broekman, Larry Catá Backer
      Pages 89-90
    3. Lady Victoria Welby
      Pages 91-94
    4. Charles Sanders Peirce
      Pages 95-111
    5. Jan M. Broekman, Larry Catá Backer
      Pages 113-116
    6. Charles Sanders Peirce
      Pages 117-123
    7. Jan M. Broekman, Larry Catá Backer
      Pages 125-127
    8. Jan M. Broekman, Larry Catá Backer
      Pages 141-145
    9. Jan M. Broekman
      Pages 147-152
  5. Semiotics of Law Today

  6. Developing Semiotic Awareness

  7. Back Matter
    Pages 409-431

About this book


This volume provides a critical roadmap through the major historical sources of legal semiotics as we know them today. The history of legal semiotics, now at least a century old, has never been written (a non-event itself pregnant with semiotic possibility).  As a consequence, its sources are seldom clearly exposed and, as word, object and meaning change, are sometimes lost. They reach from an English translation of the 1916 inaugural lecture of the first Chair in Legal Significs at the Amsterdam University, via mid 20th century studies on “property” or “contract,” to equally fascinating essays on contemporary semiotic problems produced by former students of the Roberta Kevelson Semiotics Roundtable Seminar at Penn State University 2012 and 2013. Together, the materials in this book weave the fabric of semiotics and significs, two names for the unfolding of semiotics in law and legal discourse at least until the second half of the 20th century, and both of which covered a lawyer’s focus on sign and meaning in law.  The latter is embedded within the cultural imperatives of the civilization that gave these terms meaning and made them an effective tool for the dissection of law, its reconstitution as an instrument to be used by the lawyer to advance the interests of her clients, and for judges as a means to restructure language as a narrative of law whose power could bend behavior to its strictures. Legal semiotics has become an indispensible part of the elite lawyer’s toolkit and a fundamental approach to analysis of legal texts. Two previous volumes published in 2011 and 2012 explored the conceptual, methodological and epistemological progress in the field of legal semiotics, the modern forms of semiotics study, and the mechanics of meaning making processes by lawyers. Yet the great lessons of semiotics requires a focus on the origins of the concepts and frameworks that would become contemporary legal semiotics, its origins as an object of the consciousness of meaning making—one whose roots, as lessons for the oracular conversations of law, are expanded in this volume.


Interpretation of Signs Jacob Israel de Haan Legal Semiotics Legal Significs Legal Significs and its Application Meaning of Signs in Law Origins and Effects of Legal Significs Reading Semiotics Rhetorical Analysis of Peirce’s Semiotics Semiotic Analysis of a Legal Discourse Semiotic Constraints Semiotic Model of Law Semiotics and Legal Theory Semiotics and Legal Theory Semiotics in Law Semiotics of Law in Legal Education Semiotics, and Psychoanalysis Significs and Significs and Philosophy Signs and Legal Discourse Signs in Law Studies in the Development of Significance Task of Legal Significs The Law as a System of Signs The Signific Movement What is Significs?

Editors and affiliations

  • Jan M. Broekman
    • 1
  • Larry Catá Backer
    • 2
  1. 1.Dickinson School of LawPenn State UniversityCarlisleUSA
  2. 2.Departments of Law and International AffairsPenn State UniversityCarlisleUSA

Bibliographic information