15 July 2015

BOOK: Christopher WARREN, Literature and the Law of Nations, 1580-1650.Oxford: OUP, 2015. 304 p. ISBN 9780198719342. USD 55

(image source: OUP)

Oxford University Press just published Christopher Warren (Carnegie Mellon)'s new book, Literature and the Law of Nations, 1580-1650.

In this groundbreaking study, Christopher Warren argues that early modern literary genres were deeply tied to debates about global legal order and that today, as international law owes many of its most basic suppositions to early modern literary culture. Literature and the Law of Nations shows how the separation of scholarship on law from scholarship on literature has limited the understanding of international law on both sides. Warren suggests that both literary and legal scholars have tacitly accepted tendentious but politically consequential assumptions about whether international law is ârealâ law. Literature and the Law of Nations recognizes the specific nature of early modern international law by showing how major writers of the English Renaissance—including Shakespeare, Milton, and Hobbes—deployed genres like epic, tragedy, comedy, tragicomedy, and history to shore up the canonical subjects and objects of modern international law. Warren demonstrates how Renaissance literary genres informed modern categories like public international law, private international law, international legal personality, and human rights. Students and scholars of Renaissance literature, intellectual history, the history of international law, and the history of political thought will find in Literature and the Law of Nations a rich interdisciplinary argument that challenges the usual accounts by charting a new literary history of international law.

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