Sentenced to “Storification”: A Trial on Legal Narratives



Few people actually have studied law, and even fewer have a profound knowledge of how to apply or interpret it. Nevertheless, by and large, people tend to have a fairly good understanding of legality and justice within their respective socio-cultural surroundings1. Even though the question of how people actually compose their basic concepts of justice is widely disputed, it can be assumed that any specifically legal understanding is hardly innate. People learn about legal systems, the application of legal principles, and the execution of legal ruling not from theoretical reasoning, the study of legal texts and cases, or their own experience but primarily from stories that tell of justice or injustice, law enforcement, and people in conflict with the law: accounts told by others, reports encountered in newspapers, TV and radio news, documentaries, the Internet, or stories presented in magazines, books, TV series films, or other means of communication.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alexander, S. L. Media and American Courts: A Reference Handbook. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC Clio, 2004.Google Scholar
  2. Amsterdam, Anthony G., and Jerome Bruner, Minding the Law: How Courts Rely on Story-telling and How Their Stories Change the Way We Understand the Law and Ourselves, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000.Google Scholar
  3. Asimov, Michael, “Real Court Television.” Picturing Justice. Sept 1998. 10 Jan 2009 <>.Google Scholar
  4. Asimov, Michael, and Shannon Mader. Law and Popular Culture: A Course Book. New York: Lang, 2007.Google Scholar
  5. Brooks, Peter. “The Law as Narrative and Rhetoric.” Law’s Stories: Narrative and Rhetoric in the Law. Ed. Peter Brooks and Paul Gewirtz. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1996, 14–22.Google Scholar
  6. Brooks, Peter. “Narrative in and of the Law.” A Companion to Narrative Theory: Ed. James Phelan and Peter J. Rabinowitz. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2008, 415–426.Google Scholar
  7. Bruner, Jerome. Making Stories: Law, Literature, Life. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002.Google Scholar
  8. Bush, George W. “President Bush’s Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the Nation.” Washington Post 21 Sept 2008. 10 Jan 2009 < 092001.html>.Google Scholar
  9. Cardozo, Benjamin N. “Law and Literature.” Law and Literature and Other Essays and Addresses. 1931. Littleton, CO: Rothman, 1986, 3–40.Google Scholar
  10. Dershowitz, Alan M. America on Trial. Inside the Legal Battles That Transformed Our Nation. New York: Warner, 2004.Google Scholar
  11. Denvir, John. “Introduction: One Movie No Lawyer Should Miss.” University of San Francisco Law Review 30 (1996): 1051–1054.Google Scholar
  12. Farber, Daniel A., and Suzanna Sherry. “Telling Stories out of School: An Essay on Legal Narratives.” Stanford Law Review 45 (1993): 807–855.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Garner, Bryan A., ed. Black’s Law Dictionary. 8th ed. St. Paul, MN: Thomson West, 2004.Google Scholar
  14. Gewirtz, Paul, “Narrative and Rhetoric in the Law.” Law’s Stories: Narrative and Rhetoric in the Law. Ed. Peter Brooks and Paul Gewirtz. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1996, 2–13.Google Scholar
  15. Herz, Michael. “‘Do Justice!’: Variations of a Thrice-Told Tale.” Virginia Law Review 82 (1996): 111–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Heald, Paul J. A Guide to Law and Literature for Teachers, Students, and Researchers. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 1998.Google Scholar
  17. Kellogg, Sarah. “Legal Journalism at a Crossroads.” The District of Columbia Bar 23.1 (2008). 30 Dec 2008 <>.Google Scholar
  18. Koch, Bernhard A. “Hot Coffee and Dogs in Microwave Ovens: What Austrians Should Really Know about American Tort Law.” 50 Years of American Studies in Innsbruck: Past and Future. Ed. Gudrun M. Grabher and Claudia Schwarz. Innsbruck: Innsbruck University Press, 2009, 197–216.Google Scholar
  19. Krukowski, Andrew. “‘Judy’ Still Rules Court Show Ratings.” TV Week 11 Jan 2009. 20 Jan 2009 <>.Google Scholar
  20. Leeming, David Adams. “Once Upon a Time.” Storytelling Encyclopedia: Historical, Cultural, and Multiethnic Approaches to Oral Traditions around the World. Ed. David Adams Leeming. Phoenix, AZ: Onyx Press, 1997. 3–7.Google Scholar
  21. Lubet, Steven. The Importance of Being Honest: How Lying, Secrecy, and Hypocrisy Collide with Truth in Law. New York: NYU Press, 2008.Google Scholar
  22. Mann, Michael D. “The ‘CSI Effect’: Better Jurors through Television and Science?” bepress Legal Series (2006). Working Paper 1430. 30 Dec 2008 <>.Google Scholar
  23. McEvoy, Kieran. “Newspapers and Crime: Narrative and the Construction of Identity.” Tall Stories? Reading Law and Literature. Ed. John Morison and Christine Bell. Aldershot: Dartmouth, 1996, 179–200.Google Scholar
  24. Minda, Gary. “Cool Jazz but not so Hot Literary Text in Lawyerland: James Boyd White’s Improvisation of Law as Literature.” Cardozo Studies in Law and Literature 13 (2001): 157–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. O’Sullivan, Tim, et al. Key Concepts in Communication. Studies in Communication. London: Methuen, 1985.Google Scholar
  26. Patterson, Dennis M. “Law’s Pragmatism: Law as Practice & Narrative.” Virginia Law Review 76 (1990): 937–996.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Posner, Richard A. “Legal Narratology.” Review of Law’s Stories: Narrative and Rhetoric in the Law. Ed. Peter Brooks and Paul Gewirtz. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. 1996. The University of Chicago Law Review 64 (1997): 737–747.Google Scholar
  28. Posner, Richard A. Law and Literature. Rev. and enlarged ed. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998.Google Scholar
  29. Scheppele, Kim Lane. “Foreword: Telling Stories.” Michigan Law Review 87 (1989): 2073–2098.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Schwarz, Claudia. “The Ethics of Storytelling: American Media and the Quest for Truth.” Diss. University of Innsbruck, 2008.Google Scholar
  31. Shelton, Donald E., Young S. Kim, and Gregg Barak. “A Study of Juror Expectations and Demands Concerning Scientific Evidence: Does the ‘CSI Effect’ Exist?” Venderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law 9 (2006): 331–386.Google Scholar
  32. Sherwin, Richard K. “Law Frames: Historical Truth and Narrative Necessity in a Criminal Case.” Stanford Law Review 47 (1994): 39–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Stanley, Alessandra, “Gavel to Gavel (to Gavel to Gavel) Coverage.” New York Times 8 July 2007. 10 Jan 2009 <>.Google Scholar
  34. Starr, Paul. The Creation of the Media: Political Origins of Modern Communication. New York: Basic Books, 2004.Google Scholar
  35. Strickland, Rennard, “Bringing Bogie out of the Courtroom Closet: Law and Lawyers in Film.” Screening Justice — The Cinema of Law: Significant Films of Law; Order and Social Justice. Ed. Rennard Strickland, Terre E. Foster, and Taunya Lovell Banks. Buffalo, NY: Williams Hein, 2006, xxi–xxxiii.Google Scholar
  36. Van Dunné, Jan M. “Narrative Coherence and Its Function in Judicial Decision Making and Legislation.” The American Journal of Comparative Law 44 (1996): 463–486.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Ward, Ian. Law and Literature: Possibilities and Perspectives. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 1995.Google Scholar
  38. Weisberg, Richard. “Coming of Age Some More: ‘Law and Literature’ Beyond the Cradle.” Nova Law Review 13 (1988): 107–124.Google Scholar
  39. White, James Boyd. The Legal Imagination. 1973. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1994.Google Scholar
  40. Willing, Richard. “‘CSI Effect’ Has Juries Wanting More Evidence.” USA Today 5 Aug 2004. 30 Dec 2008 <>.Google Scholar
  41. Winter, Steven L, “The Cognitive Dimension of the Agon between Legal Power and Narrative Meaning” Michigan Law Review 87 (1989): 2225–2279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag/Wien 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für AmerikastudienUniversität InnsbruckAustria

Personalised recommendations