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Description - Law, Literature and the Power of Reading: Literalism and Photography in the Nineteenth Century by Suneel Mehmi

At the intersection of law, literature and history, this book interrogates how a dominant contemporary idea of law emerged out of specific ideas of reading in the nineteenth century. Reading shapes our identities. How we read shapes who we are. Reading also shapes our conceptions of what the law is, because the law is also a practice of reading. Focusing on the works of key Victorian writers closely associated with legal practice, this book addresses the way in which the identity of the reader of law has been modelled on the identity of the political elite. At the same time, it shows how other readers of law have been marginalised. The book thus shows how a construction of the law has emerged from the ordering of a power that discriminates between different readers and readings. More specifically, and in response to the emerging media of photography - and, with it, potentially subversive ideas of exposure and visibility - the book shows that there have been dominant, hidden and unrecognised guides to legal reading and to legal thought. And in making these visible, the book also aims to make them contestable. This secret history of law will appeal to legal historians, legal theorists, those working at the intersection of law and literature and others with interests in law and the visual.

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