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Law, Literature, Culture: Core Concepts (10)


Admission requirements

Not applicable.


This course offers a legal-philosophical introduction in core concepts within Law, Literature and Culture. For each seminar we will study and discuss literary, legal-theoretical and philosophical texts in relation to relevant legal cases and documents. This way you will get familiarized with basic ideas that underlie the theory and practice of law, as well as its intersection with works of art (literature, film and animation) from a ‘Law and (…)’ perspective.
The first four seminars are dedicated to legal-philosophical questions such as: What is law? Is it possible to define ‘justice’? What are the fundaments of modern law? How can law and state power be justified? What are the differences between judicial decision-making and trial by jury in relation to objectivity and prejudice?
In the fifth and sixth seminar, the interdisciplinary field of Law and Humanities is introduced. After you have critically reflected on core concepts in law and legal philosophy departing from works of art, we will focus on questions as: What is the relation between law and humanities? Are narratives and stories connected to law and if so, how? Do we need literature to (further) instigate and develop our moral judgement, and what does this entail for legal decision-making?
Part two of the course will be cased based. In a series of six sessions we will study a series of trials that have attracted so much media attention that they can be seen as (partly) taking place in the public sphere. We will focus on the following questions: why did these trials capture the attention of many? What are the larger issues that are raised by these trials? How are trials reported on by written media, broadcast media and digital media? What happens when works of arts, literary texts, drama’s or films remediate trials? Do literary or artistic trial reports offer new insights about justice?

Course objectives

After completing this course students:

  • Are able to assess classic debates and core concepts in legal philosophy;

  • Are able to critically evaluate and reflect on core concepts in legal philosophy from works of art;

  • Are able to assess (at an elementary level) the scholarly debates in the field of Law and Humanities;

  • Have gained insight into the relation and relevance of art for the (theory and practice of) law;

  • Have gained an understanding about the representation of legal issues in the media, in literature and in culture at large

  • Developed their ability to reflect on their knowledge in writing.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


(1) Weekly Assignment (non-graded)
Each week, students are asked to send in two discussion questions concerning the materials they have studied. During the seminars we will use a selection of these questions as starting points to discuss the readings.

(2) Midterm Examination (graded, 50%)
Written examination with open questions and essay questions

(3) Final Examination (graded, 50%)
Written examination with open questions and essay questions


Two examinations (50% each)


Written examination with open questions and essay questions, 100%

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

All literature is accessible online. We will watch the required film together on Campus.
NB: Please note that this reading list is not yet complete.
Required reading/viewing:

  • Sophocles, Antigone, see

  • H.L.A. Hart, ‘Positivism and the Separation between Law and Morals’ (selected passages), Harvard Law Review 1958, p. 593-621.

  • G. Radbruch, ‘Statutory Lawlessness and Supra-Statutory Law (1946)’, Oxford J Legal Studies 2006, p. 1-11, see Wystap

  • G. Radbruch, ‘Five Minutes of Legal Philosophy (1945)’, Oxford J Legal Studies 2006, p. 13-15, see Wystap

  • Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (selected passages), 1651 Social Sciences

  • Immanuel Kant, What is Enlightenment?, 1786

  • Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Dream of a Ridiculous Man, 1877

  • Alain de Benoist, ‘What is sovereignty?’, Telos. Critical Theory of the Contemporary (116) 1999, p. 99-118 Congreso

  • Film Twelve Angry Men (Lumet, 1957)

  • Paul Scholten, General Part. The decision (section 28), 1931 [Paul Scholten]( (

  • US Courts Familiarize yourself with the jury system in the United States in criminal trials

  • Plato, Republic (selected passages: Books II, III and X), see Plato's Republic (

  • Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics (selected passages), see Ethics.p65 (

  • Aristotle, Poetics (selected passages), see The Poetics of Aristotle, by Aristotle (

  • Martha Nussbaum, ‘The Literary Imagination in Public Life,’ 22 New Literary History, 1991, pp. 877-910. JSTOR

  • Henderson, L.N., ‘Legality and Empathy’, 85 Michigan Law Review, 1987, pp. 1574-1653, available at Michigan Law Review NB: only read paragraph IIIA on Brown v. Board of Education and paragraph IIIC on Abortion

  • ECHR, Krenz e.a. versus Germany: ECtHR 22 March 2001, 34044/96, 35532/97 and 44801/98 (Streletz, Kessler and Krenz v. Germany). THE FACTS part I under A (all) and B (section 22 = judgment of Federal Constitutional Court); THE LAW section 46, 85-89 and 102-105 see CASE OF STRELETZ, KESSLER AND KRENZ v. GERMANY

  • The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, 1789 The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the CitizenUniversal

  • Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 Declaration of Human Rights

Readings for part two of the course are TBA


  • YouTube. Short but adequate plot summary of Sophocles’ Antigone.

  • IMDB the film Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)

  • Larry Laudan, ‘Is Reasonable Doubt Reasonable?’, University of Texas Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper Series Number 144, p. 1-35, see University of Texas Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper Series Number

  • PLATO ON: The Allegory of the Cave - YouTube

  • Brown v. Board of Education (I) 347 U.S. 483 (1954)

  • Roe v. Wade 410 U.S. 113 (1973)

  • TBA


Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory.

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte.
Registration Contractonderwijs.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal