Peter Goodrich – Retinal Justice: Rats, Maps, and Masks

Event Date: 2 May 2019
Room B35
Birkbeck, University of London
Birkbeck Main Building
Malet St
London WC1E 7HX


The Birkbeck School of Law presents:

The 2019 Annual Law Lecture:

Retinal Justice: Rats, Maps, and Masks

Professor Peter Goodrich (Cardoza) – Retinal Justice: Rats, Maps, and Masks

A judge springs out of his car on the way to court in downtown Chicago and takes photographs of an inflatable rat. A while later he inserts these photographs into a decision involving another inflatable rodent.

Judges now regularly insert pictures in judgments but there is no study either of the genres or the precedential status of these modern visual emblemata, these pictorial interventions in the record. Using a comparative visual corpus of 500 images extracted from diverse common law jurisdictions, this multimedia performance will address the impact of graphics, gifs, emojis, pictures, google earth, screenshots, photographs, film and animé on legal decision making. For the first time in tellurian jurisprudence Professor Goodrich will anatomize, schematize, choreograph, analyze and classify the imagery of judgment.

About The Speaker
Professor Peter Goodrich is a scholar of special distinction, having established the School of Law at Birkbeck, and served as managing editor of what has become the flagship journal of critical legal studies, Law and Critique. A law graduate from the University of Sheffield, he completed a PhD in law and linguistics at Edinburgh before lecturing in Liverpool, Newcastle-Upon Tyne and Lancaster, as well as amassing a number of visiting positions around Europe.

From 1991-2000 he was founding Dean of Birkbeck’s School of Law and Corporation of London Professor of Law at Birkbeck, guiding the School’s rapid and successful growth. Since 2000 he has been Professor of Law, and Director of the Program in Law and Humanities at the Cardozo School of Law, New York, managing editor of Law and Literature and co-editor of the critical legal studies book series Discourses of Law published by Routledge.

His scholarly work is wide-ranging in its engagement with questions of law, legal theory, history, literature, interpretation, rhetoric, visuality, and aesthetics. He has authored several ground-breaking monographs including Reading the Law: A Critical Introduction to Legal Theory and Techniques (1986), Legal Discourse: Studies in Linguistics, Rhetoric and Legal Analysis (1987), Languages of Law: From Logics of Memory to Nomadic Masks (1990), Oedipus Lex: Psychoanalysis, History, Law(1995), Law in The Courts of Love: Literature and Other Minor Jurisprudences (1996), The Laws of Love: A Brief Historical and Practical Manual (2006), Legal Emblems and the Art of Law: Obiter Depicta as the Vision of Governance (2013), Imago Decidendi: On the Common Law of Images (2017), Schreber’s Law: Jurisprudence and Judgment in Transition (2018).

Introduction by Professor David Latchman (Master of Birkbeck):

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