Research Handbook on Critical Legal Theory
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Research Handbook on Critical Legal Theory

Edited by Emilios Christodoulidis, Ruth Dukes and Marco Goldoni

Critical theory, characteristically linked with the politics of theoretical engagement, covers the manifold of the connections between theory and praxis. This thought-provoking Research Handbook captures the broad range of those connections as far as legal thought is concerned and retains an emphasis both on the politics of theory, and on the notion of theoretical engagement. The first part examines the question of definition and tracks the origins and development of critical legal theory along its European and North American trajectories. The second part looks at the thematic connections between the development of legal theory and other currents of critical thought such as; Feminism, Marxism, Critical Race Theory, varieties of post-modernism, as well as the various ‘turns’ (ethical, aesthetic, political) of critical legal theory. The third and final part explores particular fields of law, addressing the question how the field has been shaped by critical legal theory, or what critical approaches reveal about the field, with the clear focus on opportunities for social transformation.
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Chapter 9: Rhetoric, semiotics, synaesthetics

Peter Goodrich


The oft heralded death of rhetoric has given birth to a plurality of new disciplines and practices of advocacy and transmission of law. Remediation, the digitalization and virtualization of legal sources, has untethered the juridical from its previous and exclusive dependence upon archives and texts. Law has become imaginal and circulates increasingly in fragments and bytes, hashtags and tweets, images and gifs that increasingly challenge and change how we view, interact with and apprehend the legal. The lawscape becomes an atmosphere encountered, inhabited, dreaded or aspired to as the condition of social existence. As the theatrocratic modes of sovereign presence unleash constantly mutating representations of governance, the ambit of law’s rhetoric – of what the medieval era aptly termed rectorica – expands to fill the void of social meaning.

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