New question: Law and Social Sciences

Hi everybody!

As next week we won’t have classes, you are ALL invited to answer the following question:

“What is a social fact and what is a juridical form? Describe the difference by making reference to the concept of institution.”

Your participation to this discussion will be taken into account in your final evaluation. If you don’t have posted any comment until now, it is time to start!

25-26-27 October 2016: Paolo Napoli on “Law and Social Sciences”

napoli_small480Dear all,
this week Prof. Paolo Napoli (EHESS, CENJ Paris) will give three lectures on the relationship between law and social sciences at hand of the works of some of the most important philosophers and legal theorists of the 20th century. There is no compulsory reading but you are invited to read at least some parts of the famous works listed below.


For a long period of time, law has been kind of a “problem” for social sciences. For reasons that would deserve to be further explored, things have changed and it is now clear that the expression “law and social sciences” refers to an increasingly popular and accepted interlock rather than to a discrepancy. However, we must not imagine that we entered the era of methodological syncretism as law’s demand for autonomy remains an essential condition for a transdisciplinary (and, above all, not interdisciplinary) encounter. Using the works of authors such as M. Foucault, E. Durkheim and H. Kelsen, we will try to identify the historical emergence of the social sciences and the tendency of the law to distinguish itself  from sociology, anthropology, psychology, etc. Finally, analyzing the concept of “institution”, we will have the opportunity to test how law and social sciences differently problematize this topic, which can be considered pivotal in the history of Western societies

Suggested readings:

– M. Foucault, Les mots et les choses (1966), chapitre X : « Les sciences humaines »

– E. Durkheim, Les règles de la méthode sociologique, 1895

– H. Kelsen, Der Begriff des Staates und die Sozialpsychologie mit Mit besonderer  Berücksichtigung von Freuds Theorie der Masse, 1921

Click HERE to read Paolo Napoli’s CV


“The best way to prepare for the law is to be a well-read person”[Mr. Justice Felix Frankfurter]

Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter Reading OutsideWhat if you were a 12-year-old boy living in the USA who would be interested in “going into the law as a career” and you decided to ask a famous judge for advice? This is what M. Paul Classen Jr. from Alexandria, Virginia, did in 1954.  And this is the reply he received from Mr. Justice Felix Frankfurter:


My Dear Paul:

No one can be a truly competent lawyer unless he is a cultivated man.  If I were you I would forget about any technical preparation for the law.  The best way to prepare for the law is to be a well-read person.  Thus alone can one acquire the capacity to use the English language on paper and in speech and with the habits of clear thinking which only a truly liberal education can give.  No less important for a lawyer is the cultivation of the imaginative faculties by reading poetry, seeing great paintings, in the original or in easily available reproductions, and listening to great music.  Stock your mind with the deposit of much good reading, and widen and deepen your feelings by experiencing vicariously as much as possible the wonderful mysteries of the universe, and forget about your future career.

With good wishes,

Sincerely yours,

[signed]  Felix Frankfurter

From THE LAW AS LITERATURE, ed. by Ephraim London, Simon and Schuster, 1960.

What do you think about that?

20-21 October 2016: David Skeel on “The Tradition of Law and Literature”

Dear students,

as you know, this week’s classes will take place (exceptionally) on Thursday and Friday. Prof. David Skeel will introduce us to the history of law and literature scholarship in the United States, and consider the prospects of this movement for the future. He will focus in particular on three recent strands of law and literature scholarship, which are often referred to as 1) law as language (associated with James Boyd White); 2) literature as empathy (associated with Robin West and Martha Nussbaum) and 3) law and narrative (associated with Patricia Williams).

Suggested Readings:
D.A. Skeel, Lawrence Joseph and Law and Literature, in “University of Cincinnati Law Review”, 77.3 (2009), pp. 921-939.


Prof. David Skeel’s CV:
David A. Skeel is currently the S. Samuel Arsht Professor of Corporate Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School (2004-), after having been Associate Professor of Law at the Temple University School of Law (1993- 1998) and Professor of Law at University of Pennsylvania Law School (1999- 2003) .
He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina (B.A. 1983) and the University of Virginia (J.D. 1987). His poems have appeared in Boulevard, Kansas Quarterly and elsewhere. He has written on law and literature or related issues for Columbia Law Review, Michigan Law Review, Legal Affairs, Wallace Stevens Journal, Philadelphia Inquirer, and other publications; and he served as an advisory editor of Boulevard in the 1990s.
He also is the author of two books:
– Icarus in the Boardroom: The Fundamental Flaws in Corporate America and Where They Came From (Oxford U. Press, 2005)
– Debt’s Dominion: A History of Bankruptcy Law in America (Princeton University Press, 2001) .
In 1999 & 2002 he received the Harvey Levin Award for Excellence in Teaching and in 2004 the Lindback Award (university-wide “Great Teacher” award).

For a complete overview on Prof. Skeel’s CV and his extensive list of publications see:

A question on individual narratives and normativity

Do you live with or without novels? If you live without, why are you not interested in the life of individuals others than you?

If you live with, what do you think you would loose if you lived without?

Try to explain how individual narratives (either legal cases or literary stories) can have an impact in other people’s lives and ideas of normativity.

11 and 13 October 2016: Guido Mazzoni on Law, Literature, Morality

Dear all,

This week will be devoted to Law and Literature. Our guest, Guido Mazzoni, is an expert in the field of literature and poetry and he recently devoted his attention to the theory of the novel . You can read his cv below. There will be no class on Wednesday, 12 October. We will keep you updated about the readings.

Guido Mazzoni

Guido Mazzoni (1967) studied at the Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa. He has been a fellow at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris (1994-1995), Lecturer at the University College London (1995-96), Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the University of Chicago (2003-04), Italian Affiliated Fellow at the American for the Arts Academy in Rome (2007), Professeur invité Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris (2010), Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago (2011), Visiting Professor at the University of California, Berkeley (2016).

He has written two books of poetry La scomparsa del respiro dopo la caduta [The disappearance of breath after the fall] (in Poesia contemporanea. Terzo quaderno italiano, edited by Franco Buffoni, Guerini, 1992) and I mondi [The Worlds] (Donzelli, 2010), and the essays Forma e solitudine [Form and Loneliness] (Marcos y Marcos 2002); Sulla poesia moderna [On Modern Poetry] (Il Mulino 2005) [French translation Sur la poésie moderne (Garnier 2014)];Teoria del romanzo (Il Mulino 2011) [English translation, Theory of the Novel, is forthcoming in 2017]; I destini generali [The General Destinies] (Laterza 2015). He is one of the founders and the editors of the website «Le parole e le cose».




The 18th International Roundtable for the Semiotics of Law (IRSL 2017, hosted by the Cardozo Law School  in collaboration with the University of Roma Tre – Law School), will take place from 25 May to 28 May 2017.




The use and practice of exemplarity are rooted in classic rhetoric, literature, politics and law. Because of the shift from pre-modern to modern ways of thinking – as modern knowledge came to privilege abstraction over exempla, the general over the singular and particular – exemplarity lost its way.

The aim of this Roundtable is to discuss how in the contemporary legal discourse exemplarity regained relevance in human and legal thought: it constitutes the “compromise” between different orders: positive law (civil law, common law) and natural law, general and particular, abstract and concrete, societal and individual. Exemplary judgments (at a national and at an international level, e.g. Landgericht Köln – N. 151 Ns 169/11; Enel v. Costa; Scordino v. Italy) bridge the divide between traditional dichotomies, such as Common Law/Civil Law and positive law/natural law — by linking the ordinary (cases that are already described by a norm, which provides for them) and the extreme (cases that challenge the normative order because they are not yet provided for by law).

The legal exemplary case embodies the tension between ordinary – extraordinary and general – singular, and at the same time it offers a model, a solution to “go through” that tension. The tension between ordinary and extraordinary is, in the law, related to the essential juridical tension between facts and norms. From a philosophical perspective, exemplary and paradigmatic forms are elements that constitute the hermeneutic parameters of a given context.

In its many forms, exemplarity entails the dialectical oscillation around an internal divide: whether it comes as paradeigma or paradigm, as exemplum, exemplar, or mere instance, as Exempel or Beispiel, as model or precedent, exemplarity mediates between the singular and the general. Especially in philosophy, the use of examples has often been devoted to the mere didactic illustration of general concepts for those unable to understand them without assistance from concrete cases or instances. “Examples are thus the go-cart of judgment,” as Immanuel Kant’s well-known dictum goes, “which he who is deficient in that natural talent cannot afford to dispense with” (CPR: B 174).

Natural law re-emerges through exemplarity in the form of the “just” reason in the specific case: the single narrative in the single case challenges the ratio legis by proposing a new and different ratio. The particular and the universal are given in the same form through the exemplary case because they express a contradiction between extra-legal values and abstract and general rules.


Abstracts of 300 words (max.) can be submitted by 1 December 2016 to Angela Condello ( and Peter Goodrich ( with participation decisions made by 1 January 2017.

First ‘exercise’ on Law and Language

Dear all,

as said before, you should use this blog to continue the discussions started in class. On the basis of the topics developed during the first week of classes, we therefore ask you to answer at least one of the following questions:

1) Could you provide an example of an extremely complicated legal text according to the standards of readability discussed on Thursday?

2) The Constitution of a state can be considered its ‘founding narrative’. In particular, we can compare the articles 1 of different Constitutions. Could you give an example explaining what story the art. 1 you chose tells us?

3) In Italy, legal texts seem to have become more and more complicated starting from the unification of Italy until today. Could you provide an example of this change?


4-5-6 October 2016: Introduction (Emanuele Conte and Stefania Gialdroni)

Dear all,

you will be able to access all information about the course, including the readings, on the e-learning platform of the RomaTre University ( during the next days. in the meanwhile, you can have a look at least at one of the readings of the first week, which is available online(the one by Robin West). You can find below a brief description of the topics of the first week of the course.

Drawing by QUINO

This week, classes will be devoted to an overview of the Law and the Humanities movement, starting from James Boyd White’s masterpiece “The Legal Imagination” (1973). After having described the various strands of the movement (and the “classical”  distinction between “Law AS Literature”, “Law IN Literature” and “Law ABOUT Literature”), the final lesson will focus on the language of the Italian Constitution.

The suggested readings are therefore of a different nature: the first two describe what “Law and the Humanities” is (or is supposed to be), the last one focuses on an analysis of the Italian Constitution (it is written in Italian as no material in English is available on the topic).

1) Austin Sarat, Matthew Anderson , Catherine O. Frank (eds.), Law and the Humanities. An Introduction, Cambridge et al., 2010, Introduction, pp. 1-46.

2) Robin West, Community, Text and Law: Reflections on the Law and Literature Movement, in Yale J.L. & Human., Vol. 1, Iss. 1, Art. 8, 1989. Available at:

3) Tullio De Mauro, Il linguaggio della Costituzione, in «Costituzione della Repubblica italiana (1947)»,  Torino-Roma 2006, pp. VII-XXXII.