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Law and Humanities (including legal history, law and literature, cultural heritage)

The study of law as a humanities' discipline is concerned with the capacity of human beings to engage with their environment and reform it by the power of imagination expressed through arts which are not scientifically predictable in their operation or susceptible to empirical assessment. In this sense the study of law and humanities is distinct from, albeit compatible with, the study of law as a social science.

Warwick Law School has always been associated with the study of law in context. Until recently, this has entailed an almost exclusive focus upon law in its social, economic and political contexts. Social, economic and political approaches to law remain valuable, but this emphasis has tended to neglect law’s historical connection to the arts of writing, reading, interpretation of text (hermeneutics), representation, performance and persuasion (rhetoric). In response to this, several academics in the law school have endeavoured to develop a distinctive approach to “law in context”; one which seeks to understand law in its cultural setting and to regard it as naturally akin to disciplines in the Arts and Humanities.

The most significant development has been the publication of the peer-reviewed journal Law and Humanities, which is the only UK journal devoted to the subject. The journal was founded and is edited by Paul Raffield and Gary Watt. It was launched in 2007 at a major conference (organised by the law school) on Shakespeare and the Law and continues to thrive, attracting articles from internationally-renowned scholars. The 2007 conference led to an edited collection: P. Raffield and G. Watt (eds.), Shakespeare and the Law (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2008). In the past years, Warwick Law School academics have published monographs in the areas of legal history, law and literature, and law and philosophy. These include G. Watt Dress, Law and Naked Truth (Bloomsbury, 2013), R. Probert, A Noble Affair: The Remarkable True Story of the Runaway Wife, the Bigamous Earl and the Farmer's Daughter with J Shaffer and J Bailey (Takeaway, 2013) and The Legal Regulation of Cohabitation: From Fornicators to Family, 1600-2010 (Cambridge University Press, 2012) and P. Raffield, Shakespeare’s Imaginary Constitution: Late-Elizabethan Politics and the Theatre of Law (Hart Publishing, 2010).
Those working in this area include;