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95 Calif. L. Rev. 1027 (2007)
The Value of Irony: Legal Orthodoxy and Henry James's Washington Square

handle is hein.journals/calr95 and id is 1035 raw text is: The Value of Irony: Legal Orthodoxy and
Henry James's Washington Square
Ticien Marie Sassoubret
INTRODUCTION
In the following pages, I offer a close reading of Henry James's 1880
novel, Washington Square. My purpose is to show that representations of law
in American fiction offer unique and valuable resources for understanding the
intersection of legal texts, legal interpretation, and lived experience. This
project participates in a recent trend of thinking about law as both a part and
product of culture.' The cultural study of law begins with the recognition that
legal meaning is found and invented in the variety of locations and practices
that comprise culture and that those locations and practices are themselves
encapsulated, though always incompletely, in legal forms, regulations, and
legal symbols.,2 In other words, law and culture are mutually constitutive.3
Applications of this insight have been diverse in subject and approach, since
Copyright © 2007 California Law Review, Inc. California Law Review, Inc. (CLR) is a
California nonprofit corporation. CLR and the authors are solely responsible for the content of
their publications.
t Lecturer in Residence, Boalt Hall School of Law, UC Berkeley. B.A. 1994, Williams
College; Ph.D. (English) 2001, Stanford University. I am grateful to Norman W. Spaulding,
Barbara Allen Babcock, Amnon Reichman, and Thomas C. Grey for their thoughtful comments
and to Alice Youmans for assistance in the early stages of the project. James Keenley and Emily
Bolt provided valuable research assistance. I am also indebted to George Dekker for first
suggesting that I write about Washington Square.
1. See, e.g., CULTURAL ANALYSIS, CULTURAL STUDIES, AND THE LAW (Austin Sarat &
Jonathan Simon eds., 2003); LAW AND THE ORDER OF CULTURE (Robert Post ed., 1991); LAW IN
THE DOMAINS OF CULTURE (Austin Sarat & Thomas R. Kearns eds., 1998). Further explorations
of the intersection of law and culture include PAUL W. KAHN, THE CULTURAL STUDY OF LAW
(1999); Robert Cover, Forward: Nomos and Narrative, 97 HARV. L. REV. 4 (1984) (an early foray
into the field); and Susan S. Silbey, Making a Place for Cultural Analyses of Law, 17 LAW & Soc.
INQUIRY 39 (1992).
2. Austin Sarat & Jonathan Simon, Cultural Analysis, Cultural Studies, and the Situation of
Legal Scholarship, in CULTURAL ANALYSIS, CULTURAL STUDIES, AND THE LAW 15 (Austin Sarat
& Jonathan Simon eds., 2003).
3. Naomi Mezey, Law as Culture, in CULTURAL ANALYSIS, CULTURAL STUDIES, AND THE
LAW 37, 45-46 (Austin Sarat & Jonathan Simon eds., 2003).

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