13 September 2015

CONFERENCE AND CFP: "On Legal Discourses, Narratives and Representations: Trials, Court Coverage and Fiction " (Toulouse, March 10-11, 2016)

WHAT On Legal Discourses, Narratives and Representations:  Trials, Court Coverage and Fiction, Conference and Call for papers

WHEN March 10-11, 2016  

WHERE Toulouse

Proposals in French or English will be sent in Microsoft Word file format to one of the organizers bellow before December 1, 2015
Submissions should include the paper title, a 3000 character-limit abstract and a short biographical note. 
The scientific committee will consider the proposal and inform the colleagues of their decisions before December 15, 2015


Trials, meant to solve conflicts and restore social peace, are part of a ritual—the judicial ritual—which internationally symbolizes the act of judging whatever the national legal system has implemented in a given country. As rituals, trials have their temples, temporality, performers, and costumes: justice is therefore akin to a staging, which follows specific rules. The legal process, regulated by the law, concludes in the delivering of a sentence, which is then discussed and analyzed by a variety of experts who express their opinions, approvals or disapprovals of the decision and consequently question the doctrine. In addition to the community of jurists, other people are interested in the legal proceeding and the sentencing of criminal cases from front-page affairs to petty crimes. The trial engenders various types of discourses, narratives and representations from journalistic coverage, to novels, plays, or films. This conference will give centre stage to these “other” types of discourses, narratives and representations by turning the floor over to scholars specialized in diverse disciplines—law, literature, history, sociology, cinema, journalism, etc…. Pluridisciplinary, this event will also be pluricultural since we will focus on the writing and re-writing of judicial procedure from the coverage of trials to their fictionalization from the perspective of both the French-speaking and English-speaking worlds. This geographical opening will lead us to not only consider the discursive characteristics specific to each culture but also to compare their different modes of discourse. 

The conference will be the opportunity to retrace the origins and initial purposes of court coverage, to go back to the moments and figures that have contributed to its development; the careful attention to its evolution will notably take into consideration the evolution of the different media and technological tools used by the reporters to cover the affairs—notes, video recording of court sessions, …—and communicate about them—newspaper columns, twitter posts, …. The rights and duties of the legislative reporter will be discussed as well as the images of justice he or she conveys. Court reporting and fiction writing have strong connections notably because many writers, from past to present times, had or have a passion for legal cases and trial coverage. Works of fiction—novels, short-stories, etc.…—inspired by criminal affairs are many; there are also a great number of non-fictional works by authors who reveal to their readers all the details of a case for them to be able to form an opinion and issue a verdict as judge would do. The similarities between the courthouse and the playhouse from the representation of justice to the reconstitution of criminal cases will also be under consideration. 

Questioning these similarities will lead us to reflect, on the one hand, upon the links between the theatrical performance and the performative nature of the law and, on the other hand, upon the theatricalization of reality. It will also be of great interest to study the narratives by jurists—lawyers, magistrates, …—who often base their writings on their own experiences. The way justice is represented on screen will be another subject: hence, the way great criminal affairs and trials are staged in films or in documentaries will be analyzed. 

This conference invites thus papers that consider the various forms of discourses which justice inspires in order to define their formal, aesthetic and rhetorical characteristics and eventually compare them. It is important to define the functions of these discourses, narratives and representations in relation to their very subject—justice—but also to society in general. Basing our reflection on the premise that there is no hierarchy between—and among—non-judicial and judicial discourses, we will consider to what extent they share common features and influence one another by notably focusing on the notion of “truth”—judicial truth, scientific truth, etc… 
Scientific committee: 
  • Christine Calvet, Research coordinator, IRPALL Institute, Toulouse-Jean Jaurès University 
  • Emeline Jouve, Assistant Professor, English and American Studies, Champollion University, Research Group CAS, Toulouse-Jean Jaurès University 
  • Lionel Miniato, Associate Professor, Private Law, Champollion University, Faculty of Private Law, Toulouse I Capitole University 
  • Cinémathèque de Toulouse
  • Médiathèque José Cabanis
  • librairie Ombres Blanches

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