Critical Legal Theory  book cover
1st Edition

Critical Legal Theory

ISBN 9780415486736
Published December 14, 2011 by Routledge
1540 Pages

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Book Description

Critical Legal Theory has conventionally been traced to the social, political, and philosophical movements of the 1960s and, before that, to the early-twentieth-century ‘realist’ critique of modern jurisprudence. In truth, however, its origins go back to classical and pre-modern thought, and to their acknowledgement of the centrality of law in attempts to conceive of the good life, or the just polity—a centrality that is, moreover, also discernible in the recent gravitation of a number of contemporary philosophers and theorists (such as Habermas, Derrida, Agamben, Luhmann, Latour) towards law.

Against the ‘restricted’ and ‘conservative’ character of modern jurisprudence, Critical Legal Theory constitutes a return to this more general interest in law and legality. Exceeding (if not exploding) the limits of jurisprudence, it has, moreover, drawn upon the most ancient and most contemporary traditions of critical thought in order to pursue new ways of understanding, living, and imagining the law.

Critical Legal Theory is now an established—if heterogeneous and controversial—field of study, represented by numerous international journals, regional organizations, and global conferences. As the field continues to flourish as never before, this new title in Routledge’s Major Works series, Critical Concepts in Law, meets the need for an authoritative reference work to make sense of a rapidly growing and ever more complex corpus of literature. Indeed, it is a landmark collection of Critical Legal Theory’s principal sources, orientations, movements, and themes.

The first volume in the collection (‘Critical Legal Origins’) illuminates the foundations of Critical Legal Theory in contemporary continental thought, as well as providing an account of its institutional history. Volume II (‘Critical Legal Orientations’), meanwhile, examines the ways in which Critical Legal Theory has addressed and problematized conventional jurisprudential ideas about law, drawing upon the insights of philosophy, as well as other disciplines. Volume III (‘Critical Legal Movements’) assembles the best and most influential research to provide an overview of the movements that characterize the field. The scholarship assembled in the final volume (‘Critical Legal Themes’) brings together the key work to explore a range of substantial themes with which Critical Legal Theorists have engaged.

Supplemented with a full index and comprehensive introductions, newly written by the editors, which situate the collected material in the context of more general theoretical traditions, as well as in critical relation to jurisprudence, Critical Legal Theory is destined to be valued by scholars, students, and researchers as a vital resource.

Table of Contents


Part 1: Textual

1. Franz Kafka, ‘Before the Law’, The Trial (1925) (extract).

2. Walter Benjamin, ‘Critique of Violence’ [1927], Selected Writings, Vol. 1 (Harvard University Press, 1999), pp. 236-252.

3. Michel Foucault, ‘Lecture 4’ [1978], Security, Territory, Population (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), pp. 87–114.

4. Niklas Luhmann, ‘Closure and Openness: On Reality in the World of Law’, in G. Teubner (ed.), Autopoietic Law: A New Approach to Law and Society (de Gruyter, 1988), pp. 335-348.

5. Jacques Derrida, ‘Force of Law’, Acts of Religion (Routledge, 2002), pp. 230–58.

6. Emmanuel Levinas, ‘The Rights of Man and the Rights of the Other’, Outside the Subject (Stanford University Press, 1994), pp. 116-125.

7. Jean-Francois Lyotard, ‘The Others Rights’, in S. Shute and S. L. Hurley (eds.), On Human Rights (Basic Books, 1994), pp. 135-147.

8. Pierre Legendre, ‘The Other Dimension of Law’, Cardozo Law Review, 1995, 16, 943-961.

9. Slavoj Zizek, ‘Superego by Default’, Cardozo Law Review, 1995, 3–4, 925-942.

10. Judith Butler, ‘Burning Acts, Injurious Speech’, Excitable Speech (Routledge, 1997), pp. 43-69.

11. Giorgio Agamben, ‘The Paradox of Sovereignty’, Homo Sacer (Stanford University Press, 1998), pp. 15–29.

12. Jean-Luc Nancy, ‘War, Sovereignty, Techne’, Being Singular Plural (Stanford University Press), pp. 101–143.

Part 2: Institutional

13. Alan Hunt, ‘The Theory of Critical Legal Studies’, Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 1986, 6, 1, 1–45.

14. Peter Goodrich, ‘Critical Legal Studies in England: Prospective Histories’, Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 1992, 12, 2, 195–236.

15. Pierre Schlag, ‘U.S. CLS’, Law and Critique, 1999, 10, 3, 199–210.

16. Alan Norrie, ‘From Critical to Socio-Legal Studies: Three Dialectics in Search of a Subject’, Social and Legal Studies, 2000, 9, 1, 85–113.

17. Costas Douzinas, ‘Oubliez Critique’, Law and Critique, 2005, 16, 1, 47–69.


Part 1: Philosophical

18. Boaventura de Sousa, ‘Law: A Map of Misreading. Toward a Post-Modern Conception of Law’, Journal of Law and Society, 1987, 14, 3, 279–302.

19. Drucilla Cornell, ‘From the Lighthouse: The Promise of Redemption and the Possibility of Legal Interpretation’, Cardozo Law Review, 1990, 11, 1687–714.

20. Victor Tadros, ‘Between Governance and Discipline’, Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 1998, 18, 1, 75–103.

21. Costas Douzinas, ‘Human Rights and Postmodern Utopia’, Law and Critique, 2000, 11, 2, 219–40.

22. Gunther Teubner, ‘Economics of Gift: Positivity of Justice: The Mutual Paranoia of Jacques Derrida and Niklas Luhmann’, Theory, Culture and Society, 2001, 18, 29–47.

23. Louis E. Wolcher, ‘Ethics, Justice, and Suffering in the Thought of Levinas: The Problem of the Passage’, Law and Critique, 2003, 14, 1, 93–116.

24. Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, ‘Dealing (with) Paradoxes: On Law, Justice and Cheating’, in M. King and C. Thornhill (eds.), Luhmann on Law and Politics: Critical Appraisals and Applications (Hart Publishing, 2006), pp. 217–34.

25. Elena Loizidou, ‘The Body Figural and Material in the Work of Judith Butler’, Australian Feminist Law Journal, 2008, 28, 29–51.

26. Anton Schutz, ‘Imperatives without Imperator’, Law and Critique, 2009, 20, 3, 233–43.

Part 2: Interdisciplinary

27. Peter Goodrich, ‘Rhetoric as Jurisprudence: An Introduction to the Politics of Legal Language’, Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 1984, 4, 1, 88–122.

28. Bernard S. Jackson, 'Legal Semiotics and the Philosophy of Law: Positivism, Deconstruction and Critical Legal Studies', Law, Fact and Narrative Coherence (Deborah Charles Publications, 1988), pp. 175-95

29. Ian Ward, ‘Law and Literature’, Law and Critique, 1993, 4, 1, 43–79.

30. Paul Raffield, ‘Reformation, Regulation and the Image: Sumptuary Legislation and the Subject of Law’, Law and Critique, 2002, 13, 2, 127–50.

31. Véronique Voruz, ‘The Logic of Exception: A Structural Reading of the Foundational Texts of Psychoanalysis’, Law, Culture and the Humanities, 2006, 2, 162–78.

32. Maria Aristodemou, ‘The Trouble with the Double: Expressions of Disquiet in and Around Law and Literature’, Law Text Culture, 2007, 11, 183–208.

33. Piyel Haldar, ‘Law and the Evidential Image’, Law, Culture and the Humanities, 2008, 8, 139–55.

34. Alison Young, ‘The Screen of the Crime: Judging the Affect of Cinematic Violence’, Social and Legal Studies, 2009, 18, 5–22.


Part 1: Feminism, Gender, and Sexuality

35. Catharine MacKinnon, ‘Feminism, Marxism, Method and State: Towards a Feminist Jurisprudence’, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 1983, 8, 635–58.

36. Nicola Lacey, ‘Theory into Practice? Pornography and the Public/Private Dichotomy’, Journal of Law and Society, 1993, 20, 93–113.

37. Sara Ahmed, ‘Deconstruction and Law’s Other: Towards a Feminist Theory of Embodied Legal Rights’, Social and Legal Studies, 1995, 4, 55–73.

38. Margaret Davies, ‘Queer Property, Queer Persons: Self-Ownership and Beyond’, Social and Legal Studies, 1998, 327–52.

39. Ratna Kapur ‘A Love Song to Our Mongrel Selves’: Hybridity, Sexuality and the Law’, Social and Legal Studies, 1998, 8, 353–68.

40. Joanne Conaghan, ‘Reassessing the Feminist Theoretical Project in Law’, Journal of Law and Society, 2000, 27, 3, 351–85.

41. Maria Drakopoulou, ‘The Ethic of Care, Female Subjectivity and Feminist Legal Scholarship’, Feminist Legal Studies, 2000, 8, 2, 199–226.

42. A. Cavarero, ‘Politicizing Theory’, Political Theory, 2002, 30, 4, 506–32.

43. Janice Richardson, ‘Feminist Legal Theory and Practice: Rethinking the Relationship’, Feminist Legal Studies, 2005, 13, 275–93.

Part 2: Postcolonialism and Race

44. P. Fitzpatrick, ‘Racism and the Innocence of Law’, Journal of Law and Society, 1987, 14, 1, 119–32.

45. Antony Anghie, ‘Francisco De Vitoria and the Colonial Origins of International Law’, Social and Legal Studies, 1996, 5, 321–36.

46. Nasser Hussain, ‘Towards a Jurisprudence of Emergency: Colonialism and the Rule of Law’, Law and Critique, 1999, 10, 93–115.

47. Valerie Kerruish, ‘At the Court of the Strange God’, Law and Critique, 2002, 13, 3, 271–87.

48. Johan van der Walt, ‘Law as Sacrifice’, Journal for South African Law, 2002, 710–28.

49. B. S. Chimni, ‘Third World Approaches to International Law: A Manifesto’, International Community Law Review, 2006, 8, 3–27.

50. Upendra Baxi, ‘Postcolonial Legality’, in Schwartz and Ray (eds.), A Companion to Postcolonial Studies (Blackwell, 2007), pp. 540–55.

51. Brenna Bhandar, ‘The Ties That Bind: Multiculturalism and Secularism Reconsidered’, Journal of Law and Society, 2009, 36, 3, 301–26.

52. Denise Ferreira De Silva, ‘No-bodies: Law, Raciality and Violence’, Griffith Law Review, 2009, 18, 2, 212–36.


Part 1: Ethics

53. Costas Douzinas and Ronnie Warrington, ‘A Well-founded Fear of Justice’, Law and Critique, 1991, 2, 2, 115–47.

54. Ari Hirvonen, ‘Civitas Peregrina: Augustine and the Possibility of Non-Violent Community’, International Journal for the Semiotics of Law, 1995, 8, 24, 227–73.

55. Colin Perrin, ‘Breath from Nowhere: The Silent "Foundation" of Human Rights’, Social and Legal Studies, 2004, 13, 133–51.

56. Jose-Manuel. Barreto, ‘Ethics of Emotions as Ethics of Human Rights: A Jurisprudence of Sympathy in Adorno, Horkheimer and Rorty’, Law and Critique, 2006, 17, 1, 73–106.

57. Scott Veitch, ‘"Not in Our Name"? On Responsibility and its Disavowal’, Social and Legal Studies, 2007, 16, 281–300.

58. Panu Minkkinen, ‘The Expressionless: Law, Ethics and the Image of Suffering’, Law and Critique, 2008, 19, 1, 65–85.

59. Peter Fitzpatrick, ‘Legal Theology: Law, Modernity and the Sacred’, Seattle University Law Review, 2009, 32, 321–41.

60. Tarik Kochi, ‘Species War: Law, Violence and Animals’, Law, Culture and the Humanities, 2009, 5, 3, 353–69.

Part 2: Politics

61. Robert Cover, ‘Violence and the Word’, Yale Law Journal, 1986, 95, 1601-1629.

62. Nikolas Rose and Mariana Valverde, ‘Governed By Law?’, Social and Legal Studies, 1998, 7, 541–51.

63. Peter Rush, ‘An Altered Jurisdiction: Corporeal Traces of Law’, Griffith Law Review, 1998, 6, 144–168.

64. Wendy Brown, ‘Suffering Rights as Paradoxes’, Constellations, 2000, 7, 2, 208–29.

65. Antonio Negri, ‘Philosophy of Law Against Sovereignty: New Excesses, Old Fragmentations’, Law and Critique, 2008, 19, 3, 335–43.

66. Adam Thurschwell, ‘Ethical Exception: Capital Punishment in the Figure of Sovereignty’, South Atlantic Quarterly, 2008, 107, 3, 571–96.

67. Emilios Christodoulidis, ‘Strategies of Rupture’, Law and Critique, 2009, 20, 3–26.

68. Stewart Motha, ‘Liberal Cults, Suicide Bombers, and Other Theological Dilemmas’, Law, Culture and the Humanities, 2009, 5, 228–46.

69. James R. Martel, ‘Can there be Politics Without Sovereignty? Arendt, Derrida and the Question of Sovereign Inevitability’, Law, Culture and the Humanities, 2010, 6, 153–66.

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