The University of Wisconsin Press

Rhetoric / Law and Criminology


Heracles' Bow
Essays on the Rhetoric and Poetics of the Law

James Boyd White

Heracles’ Bow is a beautifully written, learned, and broad-ranging contribution to current thinking about the nature of law and the legal enterprise. . . . This book should prove valuable not only to students and teachers of law and jurisprudence, but to all those who are interested in understanding the relationship between law, rhetoric, and culture.”—Cass R. Sunstein, professor of law at the University of Chicago

The law has traditionally been regarded as a set of rules and institutions. In this thoughtful series of essays, James Boyd White urges a fresh view of the law as an essentially literary, rhetorical, and ethical activity. Defining and elaborating his conception, he artfully bridges the fields of jurisprudence, literature, philosophy, history, and political science. The result, a new approach that may change the way we perceive the legal process, will engage not only lawyers and law students but anyone interested in the relationship between ethics, persuasion, and community.

White’s essays, though bound by a common perspective, are thematically varied. Each of these pieces makes eloquent and insightful reading. Taken as a whole, they establish, by triangulation, a position from which they all proceed: a view of poetry, law, and rhetoric as essentially synonymous. Only when we perceive the links between these processes, White stresses, can we begin to unite the concerns of truth, beauty, and justice in a single field of action and expression.

James Boyd White is L. Hart Wright Professor Emeritus of Law, professor emeritus of English, and adjunct professor of classical studies at the University of Michigan. He has published articles on law, rhetoric, and classical and English literature. White is the author of numerous books, including Living Speech: Resisting the Empire of Force and Law and Democracy in the Empire of Force.

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October 1989

LC: 85-040381 K
240 pp.   6 x 9

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ISBN 978-0-299-10414-6
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