Law and Literature Weekend Seminar: Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations October 27-28, 2017

In its unparalleled run of 24 years, the Alumni College's Law and Literature Weekend Seminar has relied on a highly effective model: gathering professors and participants to study a single work of literature from legal, ethical, and literary perspectives. The results can be exhilarating. Each fall, the School of Law chooses a compelling text, assembles a team of professors, invites participants to Lexington, and clears the way for a unique sharing of ideas and responses.

Our program in 2017 will feature Charles Dickens' 13th novel, "Great Expectations." While Dickens' beloved novel is widely praised by scholars as "the most admired and most discussed of Dickens' works," it has also been described, curiously, by George Bernard Shaw as both "consistently truthful" and "more seditious than Marx's ‘Das Kapital'." Drawn in part from the author's own life, the story traces an orphan's journey from England's desolate marsh country to London's realm of wealth and position. In Pip, we witness colossal ambitions handicapped by meager self-knowledge. His early strivings and ultimate awakening bring him into contact with some of English literature's most memorable characters, including the escaped convict Magwitch, the strange recluse Miss Havisham, and the cynical criminal lawyer Jaggers. One of the novel's compelling themes is the gap between the promises of the legal system and the reality of unequal justice under the law. Like Shakespeare, Dickens sought to convey the human condition in all its dimensions, high and low; again like Shakespeare, his best work portrays the law as an emblem of what is at once man's glory and his affliction.

Teaching in the program will be law professors Brian Murchison, J.D. King, and Dave Caudill. Joining them from the College will be English professor and University Provost Marc Conner and history professor Michelle Brock. As a bonus to practicing attorneys, the 2017 program will again seek approval for two hours of Continuing Legal Education ethics credit. The program is open to anyone interested in literature--you don't need to be an attorney to attend.

Program Schedule

Friday, October 27, 2017

2:00 - 3:00 PM Registration, coffee Moot Courtroom Foyer
3:00 - 3:05 PM Welcoming Remarks
Dean Brant Hellwig, Dean of the Law School
Moot Courtroom
3:05 - 3:20 PM “An Introduction to Great Expectations: Themes of Freedom and Justice”
Prof. Brian Murchison
Moot Courtroom
3:20 - 5:00 PM CLE Ethics Program: “Great Expectations: Jaggers and the [Half-Lived] Lives of Dickens’ Lawyers”
Prof. David S. Caudill
Moot Courtroom
5:00 - 5:45 PM Break -
5:45 - 6:45 PM Reception Morris House
7:00 - 8:00 PM Dinner Evans Dining Hall
8:15 - 9:15 PM Great Expectations in Film Huntley Hall, Room 327

Saturday, October 28, 2017

8:30 - 9:00 AM Coffee Moot Courtroom Foyer
9:00 - 10:00 AM “Society and the Law in Dickens’ London”
Prof. Michelle Brock
Moot Courtroom
10:00 - 10:30 AM Coffee Break Moot Courtroom Foyer
10:30 - 11:30 AM “Good Character and Bad Company: Criminality and Punishment in Great Expectations"
Prof. J. D. King
Moot Courtroom
11:30 - 12:45 PM Lunch Moot Courtroom Foyer
12:45 - 2:00 PM “The Trial of Innocence: Coming of Age in Great Expectations”
Prof. Marc C. Conner
Moot Courtroom