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Law and the Popular Culture, Hofstra University (Deane)

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posted on 2022-07-06, 16:22 authored by Post Discipline AdminPost Discipline Admin
This seminar will treat works of popular culture as legal texts by analyzing depictions of lawyers and legal problems in film, television, and print. Each seminar session will focus in as much depth as possible on a particular film and a particular problem of law, law practice, public policy, or ethics that the film raises. Some of the films or television programs that the seminar may examine are To Kill a Mockingbird, The Verdict, Kramer vs. Kramer, Anatomy of a Murder, Paper Chase, Twelve Angry Men, L.A. Law and the Defenders. We will discuss the accuracy and inaccuracy of the way that lawyers and the legal system are portrayed in popular culture, particularly whether the portrayals are consistent with good legal practice and the codes that regulate lawyer behavior. The seminar will also consider the ways in which law and the legal profession affect popular culture and, conversely, the ways in which popular views of legal problems and lawyers affect the law. We will ask questions like what does this particular work (film, TV or print) teach us about law, lawyers, and the legal system, ethics, or justice? What does it teach the general public? What kind of message are the writer and director trying to send to viewers beyond just entertaining them? How accurate and fair is the film’s account in reflecting actual data about the legal system? What role has the film played in forming the public’s beliefs and attitudes about law and lawyers? Are these beliefs and attitudes reflected in the way various players in the legal system (juries, lawyers, judges, voters, governors, legislators) act? What specific issues of legal or ethical policy emerge from the film? Grades will be based on a paper and on attendance and class participation. The paper should reflect the student’s personal interests, be based on a particular work or works of popular legal culture (films, television shows, stage drama, print, etc.) and draw on the theoretical materials presented in the readings. Seminar meetings at the end of the semester will be devoted to presentation of student papers. This information has been collected for the Post-Discipline Online Syllabus Database. The database explores the use of literature by schools of professional education in North America. It forms part of a larger project titled Post-Discipline: Literature, Professionalism, and the Crisis of the Humanities, led by Dr Merve Emre with the assistance of Dr Hayley G. Toth. You can find more information about the project at Data was collected and accurate in 2021/22.


Subject Area


Geographic Region

Middle Atlantic

University or College

Hofstra University (Deane)

Funding Status


Endowment (according to NACUBO's U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2020 Endowment Market Value and Change* in Endowment Market Value from FY19 to FY20) ($1,000)


Annual Tuition and Mandatory Fees 2021-2022 ($) (Resident; Non-resident, where applicable)


Course Title

Law and the Popular Culture

Academic Year(s) Active

2004/05, 2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12, 2012/13, 2013/14

Primary Works on Reading List

Films include: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Verdict, Kramer vs. Kramer, Anatomy of a Murder, Paper Chase, Twelve Angry Men, and L.A. Law and the Defenders.

Usage metrics

    Post-Discipline: Literature, Professionalism, and the Crisis of the Humanities



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