Law and Literature Conference: DCU, 6 April 2019

Literature and the Law: The Irish Case 

Saturday 6 April 2019 Dublin City University

Organisers: Eugene McNulty (Dublin City University) and Adam Hanna (UCC)

Confirmed keynote speakers: Professor Margaret Kelleher (School of English, UCD) | Dr Tom Hickey (School of Law and Government, DCU) | Dr Heather Laird (School of English, UCC)

Event poster

Call For Papers (Deadline 28 February 2019)

Literature and the law have lived in each other’s shadows, have been indebted to each other even, since their very beginnings. Indeed, they speak to each other, and speak of each other, in ways that suggest a knowing commonality. Each, after all, is engaged in shaping the material of the world into something more known and knowable, for a deeper understanding of human actions and their motivations. Each functions through a special relationship with language and its effects. As Kieran Dolin puts it, ‘the law can only be articulated in words. While the order of a court will be imposed on the body or the property of the parties to the case, it will originally have been spoken as a sentence’. To the scholar Martha Nussbaum, literature’s ability to enable us ‘to imagine one another with empathy and compassion’ makes it a necessary part of a humanely functioning legal system. The exact nature of the relationship between law and literature, however, with all its social and political complexities, remains a contested space. This contested space is all too literal in modern Ireland, an island whose two official (and other, unofficial) legal and constitutional systems, and two official languages, have meant that the ways in which both law and literature structure reality through language have, historically, been far from straightforward.

We invite 20 minute panel papers for presentation at this one-day symposium. While the focus is primarily on the Irish context, the organisers would welcome comparative papers as well. We welcome papers from practising and academic lawyers as well as literary scholars.

Topics could include but are not limited to:


 Crime and legal remedy in Irish literature

 Women’s rights in literature

 Law and language in literature

 Irish writers and the law

 Literary censorship

 The law / legal process in Irish literature

 The language of Irish legal judgments

 Irish law and its imagination

 Judges and writing

 Literature and the Irish Constitution

Please send paper proposals (with a title, 200-word abstract and short bio) to the email address below by 28 February 2019. The event will be free for participants. The organisers anticipate that this conference will result in the production of an edited volume. Website: Email: