Gail Stygall

Spring Quarter 2000

T-Th 1:30-3:20 pm Office Hours: T 3:30-5; Th 10:30-12:30

Raitt 105* Office: Padelford A11-E



Conley, John M., and William M. O'Barr, Just Words: Law, Language, and Power

Gibbons, John, ed., Language and the Law

Shuy, Roger W., The Language of Confession, Interrogation and Deception

Solan, Lawrence M., The Language of Judges

Tiersma, Peter, Legal Language

3-4 articles/chapters by Teubner, Habermas, Goodrich, and Hunt on Foucault and law will be distributed to the class.

The Course:

This course in legal discourse will function as a subset of the more general study of linguistic discourse analysis, taking as its particular area of study the realm of law. For those without a background in language study, I will provide explanations of key concepts along the way. As I said in the course description, we will work on applied discourse analysis as well as engaging theoretical positions on why legal language functions as it does. My own work generally adopts a Critical Discourse Analysis approach and using that approach demands that the analyst also provide a social theory in which to locate the linguistic analysis. Accordingly, we will read excerpts from Alan Hunt on Foucault and law, Gunther Teubner, and Jürgen Habermas (and perhaps British critical legal studies scholar Peter Goodrich) as theoretical frames from which to view the operation of legal discourse. Rather than reading all the theorists at the beginning, I have chosen to spread them throughout the quarter.

We'll begin with lawyer/linguist Peter Tiersma's overview of legal language, examining some of the types of legal discourse he discusses along the way. We'll close the first book with a reading from sociologist Hunt on Foucault and law. From there, we'll move to anthropologists Conley and O'Barr, in their work, Just Words, for another view of legal discourse, concluding that section with a reading from German social theorist Teubner and his concept of law as an autopoiëtic, self-referencing system. Lawrence Solan's The Language of Judges follows and during this section, we will be examining judicial opinions. At the close of this examination of judicial opinions, we'll read parts of Habermas's Between Facts and Norms as our third theory perspective, along with excerpts from Peter Goodrich's Languages of Law. The final section of the course will be very applied and we'll begin with a day's work on immigration and immigrants' issues with law. I especially want us to examine the legal process of becoming "legal" in the United States through the Immigration and Naturalization Service. From there we'll examine Roger Shuy's work on confessions and use some of the Wenatchee case confessions for application of analysis. This will be followed by John Gibbons's Language and the Law.

Course Requirements:

By the end of the course, then, I expect that you will be able to conduct research on some aspect of legal language. You should have an overview of the range of research on legal discourse and a set of tools for analyzing that discourse. I have deliberately left out two types of research and scholarship on legal discourse-the rhetorical analysis of legal discourse (though discourse analysis does, to my mind, encompass rhetorical analysis) conducted primarily in departments of Speech Communications and the study of law and literature. Each of these areas could be a course alone. The focus here is on linguistic approaches to legal discourse.

Tentative Schedule:

Date Topic in Class Assignments
Mar 28 Introduction/Overview/History Read Tiersma
Mar 30 Tiersma Tiersma continued
Apr 4 Tiersma Tiersma continued
Apr 6 Tiersma Read Hunt on Foucault; first reading response
Apr 11 Theory 1; 1st reading response due Read Conley & O'Barr
Apr 13 Conley & O'Barr Conley & O'Barr continued
Apr 14 Continuing Legal Education:

Innocence Found/Wenatchee


Apr 18 Conley & O'Barr Conley & O'Barr continued
Apr 20 Conley & O'Barr Read Teubner; second reading response
Apr 25 Theory 2; 2nd reading response due Read Solan
Apr 27 Solan Solan continued
May 2 Solan Solan continued
May 4 No Class Review-essay preparation
May 9 Solan; review-essays due Read Habermas & Goodrich
May 11 Theory 3 Read Shuy
May 16 Shuy Shuy continued
May 18 Shuy Immigration readings
May 23 Immigration Read Gibbons
May 25 Gibbons Gibbons continued
May 30 Gibbons
June 1 Lunch & Presentations
June 7 Papers Due