Academic Learning in Law

Academic Learning in Law

Theoretical Positions, Teaching Experiments and Learning Experiences

Edited by Bart van Klink and Ubaldus de Vries

This timely book calls for a critical re-evaluation of university legal education, with the particular aim of strengthening its academic nature. It emphasizes lecturers’ responsibility to challenge the assumptions students have about law, and the importance of putting law in a theoretical and social context that allows for critical reflection and sceptical detachment. In addition, the book reports upon teaching experiences and innovations, offering tools for teachers to strengthen the academic nature of legal education.

Chapter 13: Learning how to read a case: resources from the visual and dramatic arts

Maksymilian Del Mar

Subjects: law - academic, legal philosophy, legal theory, research methods in law, research methods, research methods in law


It is not often that a legal academic has the opportunity to work closely, and over the period of an entire year, with a visual artist and an actor. I was put in this very fortunate position thanks to a generous grant from an internal funding scheme (the Westfield Fund for Enhancing Student Experience) at Queen Mary University of London, awarded for the year 2012–13. The aim of the project was to design and deliver a number of pilot workshops (primarily with students, but at least one with staff) exploring the potential for drawing on resources from the visual and dramatic arts for teaching law and legal reasoning. In this chapter, I report on two of the pilot workshops for students, both of which focused on ‘How to Read a Case’, or more broadly, precedential reasoning. The other workshop for students focused on ‘How to Read Statutes’ or statutory interpretation, and the workshop for staff looked primarily at the teaching of substantive areas of the law (e.g. the various principles and rules of contract law). Epistemological justifications for engaging in art-based research and art-based pedagogy are slowly making their way into the legal academy – this collection is itself a sign of that.

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