Introduction: Renaissance, Law and Literature

  • Erica Sheen
  • Lorna Hutson
Part of the Language, Discourse, Society book series (LDS)


This collection had its beginnings in a conference on ‘Renaissance, Law and Literature’ organized by the editors at Wolfson College, Oxford in July 1998. The conference was the first of its kind to focus on the Renaissance, bringing together scholars from literary studies, English legal history, critical legal studies, intellectual and social history and the history of political thought.1 The present collection of essays by a selection of the participants in the conference takes as its focus connections between law, literature and politics that are particular to England in the period 1580–1660, and as such, of course, it raises questions concerning the justification of its defining historical and geographical parameters.2 What makes the study of English legal developments in relation to literary questions — questions of representation, subjectivity, authorship, genre — a subject of more than antiquarian or occasional interest? Why should we care about trying to understand relationships between the legal and the literary in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries?


Seventeenth Century Personal Attack Legal Discourse Critical Legal Study Privy Council 
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  1. 2.
    A number of the contributions to the 1998 conference appear in Victoria Kahn and Lorna Hutson (eds), Rhetoric and Law in Early Modern Europe (Yale University Press, 2001).Google Scholar
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© Erica Sheen & Lorna Hutson 2005

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  • Erica Sheen
  • Lorna Hutson

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