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This subject explores the cultural and institutional languages within which contemporary law is communicated, expressed and understood. Official and unofficial texts of law are situated in relation with literature, music and podcasts, photography and other visual arts, as well as architecture and urban design. Our examples are selected to provide a representative sample of the main areas of legal study, such as criminal law, contract and torts, equity, administrative and constitutional law, jurisprudence, treaty and native title. Throughout, the justice of the case will be evaluated.
In any given year, the teaching of the subject will select from the following topics amongst others:
- Reading the texts of law
- Law like literature
- Law as a culture of argument
- Equity, commerce and the language of conscience
- Legal place-making: courts and legal precincts
- Access to justice: standing before the law
- The reason and rhetoric of legal judgment
- Torts, neighbours and common law
- Encounters with indigenous laws
- Defamation, data association and search engines
- Giving and taking offence: offensive language laws
- Visual evidence and acoustic justice
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject should have an understanding of how law is variously expressed and represented in contemporary legal culture.
Specifically, the student will be able to reflect on and evaluate:
- Interdisciplinary approaches to law;
- The conduct of judgment in a common law tradition.
- The legal cultures of argument;
In addition, a student will have obtained:
- a knowledge of the basic divisions of legal subject areas;
- in-depth knowledge of at least one case study discussed in the subject;
- an awareness of the institutional and cultural contexts within which law takes place;
- an increased facility with the skills of legal writing and reading.
On completion of the subject the student should have:
- Capacity for self-directed learning, specifically the ability to plan work and use time effectively;
- analytical and rhetorical skills of argument and advocacy;
- ability to speak about complex ideas in a clear and cogent manner;
- an awareness of diversity and plurality;
- write essays which develop structured argumentation; and
- capacity to judge the worth of their own arguments.
Last updated: 7 September 2023