New Directions in Law and Literature. Edited by Elizabeth S. Anker & Bernadette Meyler. New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press. 2017. Pp. 378. $29.95. In this collection, Professors Elizabeth S. Anker and Bernadette Meyler examine the intricate and evolving relationship between law and literature. The editors use the law and literature movement’s 1970s and 1980s “heyday” as a starting point and argue that, while many sounded the discipline’s “death knell” shortly thereafter, this field of work is, in fact, experiencing “something of a renaissance” (p. 2). The editors illustrate this point by showcasing twenty-two essays by leading scholars in law and literature. These essays chart the movement’s development over time and offer perspectives on its future. Certain essays, like Professor Janet Halley’s Paranoia, Feminism, Law: Reflections on the Possibilities for Queer Legal Studies, highlight fresh methodological approaches, while others, like Professor Elliott Visconsi’s Pluralism, Religion, and Democratic Culture: Nadeem Aslam’s Maps for Lost Lovers, focus on particular intersections between literary criticism and law. The editors and authors use these theoretical developments to engage with a vast array of contemporary issues, including globalization, advancements in biotechnology, marriage equality, and criminal justice reform — underscoring the real-world impact of this interdisciplinary work. The collection forms a thought-provoking read with something to teach both experts and novices.
The Alchemists. By Tom Gerald Daly. New York, N.Y.: Cambridge University Press. 2017. Pp. xxxi, 303. $125.00. Since World War II, courts have been seen as critical democracy-building institutions in countries transitioning from authoritarian rule. Above and beyond the role of courts in mature democracies, national and regional courts in nascent democracies are relied upon to “deliver on the democratic promises of the constitution” (p. 96), particularly when other branches of the government do not appear to be up to the task. These courts are asked to evaluate the needs of their new democracy and to formulate their decisions with the goal of supporting the democratization process from the bench. After demonstrating how courts came to be seen as central actors in the democratization process and cataloguing the significant challenges courts face in fulfilling this role, Professor Tom Daly considers what role courts can and should realistically be expected to play in a young democracy. Through a number of case studies, with an emphasis on the German Federal Constitutional Court and a comparison between the Brazilian Supreme Court and the Inter-American Court, Daly questions the basis of our faith in the ability of courts to function as effective democracy builders.