Presented by Professor Marianne Constable
Date: Thursday 7th December 2017
Time: 4:30 – 6:30pm
Venue: Building 67, Room 202, University of Wollongong
Drawing on law and on literature, I will discuss how repetition, as textual figure of speech and as practice, enables both possibilities of change and of resistance to change. Reiterating the past transforms the present and subverts it, through mechanisms that may be conducive, on the one hand, to learning new habits (routines, skill, expertise) and, on the other, to the entrenchment of old harms and embedding of trauma. Examples will include: issues of appropriation surrounding a short story by Borges; the way different stories of domestic violence emerge from recognition of “patterns” of abuse; and the strange case of semantic saturation. In the seminar at Wollongong, I will focus most on the “gender” and domestic violence example, which comes from research I am doing on the history of the “new unwritten law” in the US at the turn-of-the-century (19th to 20th).
Marianne Constable is Professor of Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley and author of The Law of the Other: The Mixed Jury and Changing Conceptions of Citizenship, Law and Knowledge (winner of the Law & Society Association J. Willard Hurst Prize in Legal History); Just Silences: The Limits and Possibilities of Modern Law (Princeton University Press); and Our Word is Our Bond: How Legal Speech Acts (Stanford University Press). She is currently working on two book-length projects: one on women who killed their husbands and got away with it under what was dubbed “the new unwritten law”; the other on learning and language in the written philosophical dialogue.
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