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Issue Details: First known date: 2019... 2019 Poetry, Law, and the News : Re-reading the Australian Constitution
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'This paper sits within a larger Project reading contemporary poetry that takes legal texts and histories as source material. My interest is in poetry that engages with the law in order to render legal concepts readable in new ways: readable, for example, as poems that reveal the poetics of law-making and enforcing; and readable as alternative or ‘counter-archival’ (Motha and van Rijswijk) accounts of the legal histories that underscore state power and sovereignty. Since I am a scholar of poetry and not the law, my interest is in how poetry can catalyse critical, interdisciplinary inquiry into discursive practices outside the literary, as well as advance and challenge literary studies through the invocation of an expanded field of language and meaning—that is, through the invocation of ‘poetics’ as both concept and method. In this sense, my project has two related questions or aims,the first of which is rather pragmatic and the second decidedly more abstract: how can poetry offer a model for reading that can be mobilised elsewhere in order to study the performativity, contingency, and ambiguity of language in places where we might ordinarily (and erroneously) imagine discourse to be more fixed; and, how can a reading of the poetics of legal texts and histories contribute to whatNicole M.Rizzuto calls ‘insurgent testimony’, and Divya Victor calls ‘appropriative witnessing’—textual forms that seek to intervene in and de-form dominant modes of representation that constitute imperial, colonial, and national discourses. My aim is to take seriously the idea that both law and history are predicated on unstable and anxious archives (Stoler)that are open to new readings and critical reconfigurations—and, to take seriously the idea that poetry plays a vital role in such re-readings.' (Introduction)

Notes

  • Epigraph : … regimes of race do not figure as fait accomplis, as transcending history, but as ever-incomplete projects whereby colonisers repetitively seek to impose and maintain White supremacy. (Patrick Wolfe, Traces of History)

    If people are put to death by a verdict and not by a poem, it is not because the law is not a fiction. (Barbara Johnson, ‘Mallarmé and Austin’, The Critical Distance: Essays in the Contemporary Rhetoric of Reading)

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