Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Centre for Art, Literature and Law (CALL)

The center studies the many ways in which issues of law and justice are dealt with in art and literature with a focus on liminal issues and cases. These are issues and cases where law comes to the limits of what it is capable of dealing with and art and literature explore the implications of what is at stake.

Frans Willem Korsten

CALL has organized several thematic reading seminars since 2014, and organized a summer and winter school in cooperation with NICA (The Netherlands Institute for Cultural Analysis) and a winter seminar with OSL (Opleidingsschool Literatuurwetenschap). The thematic seminars dealt with liminal issues such as victimhood, piracy, cybernetic personhood, and liminal spaces. The summer school (June 2013) dealt with animal rights, the winter school (January 2016) was entitled ‘NIGHT CULTURES, (Il)Legalities and The Politics of Life After Dark’ and the Ravenstein winterschool (January 2020) focused on ‘War, Literature and Law’.

CALL took the initiative to organize two conferences. In May 2014 LUCAS (the Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society) hosted a three-day conference entitled ‘Legal Bodies’, on the various ways in which literary and artistic texts have interrogated, historically and/or conceptually, the modes of juridical ‘personhood’. In September 2015 the Erasmus School of Law & Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication, together with LUCAS hosted ‘Issues of Fact: the Pathologies of Fact and the Fictitious in Law and the Humanities’ in Het Verhalenhuis in Rotterdam.

Research (projects)

The 2014 conference led to a special issue of the journal Law and Literature entitled ‘Legal Bodies’, vol. 28, issue 3, 2016.

Members of the group participated in several applications for grant programs, especially with NWO, together with colleagues from the department of Classics, Latin-American Studies and Media Studies in Leiden, and with colleagues from the Universities of Amsterdam, Utrecht, Gent, and the Free University of Brussels. This starts as early as 2006 with an application entitled ‘The Appeal of Law: Audience, Legitimacy and Literary Modes of Speech in Criminal Law’ (not funded). An Internationalisation program got funded in 2011, ‘Precarity and Post-autonomia: The Global Heritage’ (together with dr. Joost de Bloois, Amsterdam, and Monica Jansen, Utrecht, and partners from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, the University of Michigan Ann Arbor and the Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense). In 2014 ‘Imagineering Violence: Techniques of Early Modern Performativity in the Northern and Southern Netherlands (1630-1690)’ got funded (together with prof. dr. Inger Leemans, Amsterdam, prof. dr. Karel Vanhaesebrouck, Brussels, and prof. dr. Kornee van der Haven, Gent). In 2016 ‘The right to the night: politics, legalities, economies and aesthetics of the urban nightscape, together with dr. Sara Brandellero and partners from University College London and CUNY New York did not get funded but in 2019, the HERA program run by Sara Brandellero entitled ‘Night spaces: migration, culture and IntegraTion in Europe’ (NITE) got funded.


One PhD thesis was defended so far: Berrie Vugts, The Case against Animal Rights: A Literary Intervention, March 2015.

One Phd Thesis is about to be defended, by Tessa de Zeeuw.

Yasco Horsman

Theatres of Justice: Judging, Staging, and Working Through in Arendt, Brecht, and Delbo. Stanford University Press, 2010.

Frans-Willem Korsten

Sovereignty as Inviolability: Vondel’s Theatrical Explorations in the Dutch Republic. Hilversum: Verloren, 2009.

Art’s Interface for the Logics of Law and Justice – Affirmation, Disturbance, Disruption. Oxford: Hart Law Publishers, 2021.

Special issue Law & Literature, ‘Legal Bodies’, Taylor and Francis Online, issn 1535-685X (Print), 1541-2601 (Online), vol 28-2, 2016.

Frans-Willem Korsten

‘Theatraliteit en de wording van rechtspraak: Milo Rau’s Congo-tribunaal en twee vormen van jurisgenesis’. Carinne Elion-Valter, Bart van Klink, Sanne Taekema (eds), Wegen der Vrijheid. Liber amoricum voor Willem Witteveen. Den Haag: Boomjuridisch, 2019, pp 295-304.

‘Obstinaat recht: het chiasme van politiek en recht in relatie tot empathie en geweld – George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda,’ Claudia Bouteligier, Timo Slootweg (eds), Het empathisch supplement in recht en literatuur. Oud Turnhout/’s-Hertogenbosch, Gompel & Svacina, 2018, pp 81-102.

‘Justice’. J. de Bloois, S. De Cauwer, & A. Masschelein (eds.), 50 Key Terms in Contemporary Cultural Theory. Kalmthout: Pelckmans Pro, 2017, pp. 63-69.

‘Öffentlichkeit and Law’s Behind-the-Scenes: Theatrical and Dramatic Appearance in European and US American Criminal Law’, German Law Journal 18:02, 2017, pp. 172-193.

(with Tessa de Zeeuw) ‘Ethics of Becoming as a Frame for Ethics: Theatricality and Balance in Greenaway’s The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover’, in: Polemos: Journal of Law, Literature and Culture, 10: 1, 2016, pp. 249–266.

(together with Tessa de Zeeuw), ‘Towards a New Judicial Scene for Humans and Animals: Two Modes of Hypocrisy’. Law and Literature vol 27:1, 2015, pp. 1-25.

Yasco Horsman

(with Frans-Willem Korsten), “Introduction: Legal Bodies: Corpus / Persona / Communitas.” Law & Literature, 28 (2016): 277-28.

“Braying, Howling, Growling for Justice: Animal Personhood in Law, Literature and Cinema.” Law & Literature, 28 (2016): 319-334.

“Ok Computer? Understanding Cybernetic Personhood.” Legibility in the Age of Signs and Machines, edited by Pepita Hesselberth, Janna Houwen and Ruby de Vos. Leiden: Brill (2018): 133-146.

“Een pauze, een snik en een hoorbare siddering. Compassie, ubuntu en de stem in Antjie Krog’s Country of my Skull.” Het empathisch supplement in recht en literatuur, edited by Claudia Bouteligier and Timo Slootweg. Oud Turnhout/’s-Hertogenbosch: Gompel & Svacina (2018): 137-152.

(with Pepita Hesselberth) “Affect” and “Posthumanism.” 50 Key Terms in Contemporary Cultural Theory, ed. J. de Bloois, S. De Cauwer, & A. Masschelein. Kalmthout: Pelckmans Pro (2017): 29-24; 252-256.

“Drone Bomb Me. Cinema, Law, Politics.” Senses and Society. 15: 3 (2020). In press.

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