Law and Literature: An Interdisciplinary Relationship

Thursday, August 22, 2019
5:00 PM
6:30 PM
Faura AVR, Ateneo de Manila University

Kritika Kultura Lecture Series presents Jose Duke Bagulaya

Kritika Kultura, the international refereed journal of language, literary, and cultural studies of the Department of English, Ateneo de Manila University, will host a lecture by Jose Duke Bagulaya. The lecture—titled "Law and Literature: An Interdisciplinary Relationship"—is on August 22, 2019, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., at Faura AVR, Ateneo de Manila University. The event is open to the public. 
About the lecture
Law and literature are traditionally considered two disparate and unrelated disciplines. On the one hand, law has always been identified with the social science disciplines like political science and public administration; on the other hand, literature has conventionally been associated with the soft discipline of the Humanities. For this reason, the relation between law and literature has only attracted a mere curiosity in the Philippine academe. But law— especially, constitutions— cannot exist outside the narrative that locates it and sustains its meaning. As such, the literary category “narrative” is inscribed at the very core of the law of the land, structuring its significance. As the highly esteemed law professor, scholar, and activist, Robert Cover, puts it, “For every constitution, there is an epic, for every decalogue, a scripture.” Indeed, a good grasp of literature and the literary is crucial to understanding what makes constitutions survive and even stand up to various challenges. It is from this key insight that a new interdisciplinary field of law and literature has been gaining traction worldwide in academia as well as among professionals and practitioners of law and literature.
This lecture will trace the development of the interdisciplinary field of law and literature and discuss its three major branches, including the new sub-field of human rights and literature, in particular. The oldest branch of this field is “law in literature” which analyzes the representation of law in literary classics. Through close readings of novels and plays, one could see a very different appreciation and understanding of law which challenges the lawyerly understanding of law. The second branch is “law as literature” which reads law as if it were a literary text. Under this branch, judicial texts can be read as literary texts and legal arguments may be analyzed to uncover their narrative structures. Finally, the third branch covers the “laws of literature” which studies how law governs the field of literature. Here, one witnesses how writers from Gustave Flaubert to Jose Rizal and from Aurelio Tolentino to TV scriptwriters have been hounded by the law through its various incarnations in the form of obscenity, sedition, or copyright laws.  In each branch, the narrative plays out in different ways as it engages with law. Through this survey, students of literature and future lawyers may gain insight into the ways the legal and the literary relate to each other within and outside the world of narrative, paving the way for a deeper, more expansive and more dynamic understanding of both law and literature especially as it engages the sub-field of human rights.
About the resource person
Jose Duke Bagulaya is a PhD candidate at the University of Hong Kong, Faculty of Law and Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of the Philippines Diliman. He is the author of Writing Literary History: Mode of Production and 20th Century Waray Poetry and Linara nga mga Pulong: Mga Siday (Bound Words: Poems), both published by the UP Press. He has participated in cause-oriented litigation, particularly in the Martial Law case of Lagman v. Executive Secretary and People v. Celdran. His legal writings include “ASEAN as Wayang Kulit,” Asian Journal of International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2019) and “A People’s Reading of the ASEAN Charter,” Asian Journal of Law and Society (Cambridge University Press, in press).
About Kritika Kultura
Kritika Kultura is acknowledged by a host of Asian and Asian American Studies libraries and scholarly networks, and indexed in the MLA International Bibliography, Arts and Humanities Citation Index (Clarivate), Scopus, EBSCO, the Directory of Open Access Journals, and the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs (ICCTP). For inquiries about submission guidelines and future events, visit or email