Towards a Theatrical Jurisprudence: Space, Materiality and the Normative

IILAH welcomes everyone to a book launch and roundtable discussion on Professor Marett Leiboff's (University of Wollongong) latest book, "Towards a Theatrical Jurisprudence: Space, Materiality and the Normative" (Routledge, 2019). A small cocktail event will precede the roundtable discussion. The discussants will be:

Please RSVP to IILAH


Professor Marett Leiboff, Towards a Theatrical Jurisprudence:
Space, Materiality and the Normative
(Routledge, 2019).

This book brings the insights of theatre theory to law, legal interpretation and the jurisprudential to reshape law as a practice of response and responsibility. Confronting a Baconian antitheatrical legality embedded in its jurisprudences and interpretative practices, Marett Leiboff turns to theatre theory and practice to ground a theatrical jurisprudence, taking its cues from Han-Thies Lehmann's conception of the post-dramatic theatre and the early work of theatre visionary Jerzy Grotowski. She asks law to move beyond an imagined ideal grounded in Aristotelian drama and tragedy, and turns to the formation of the legal interpreter lawyer, judge, jurisprudent as fundamental to understanding what's "noticed" or not noticed in law. We "notice" most easily through that which is written into the body of the legal interpreter, in a way that can't be replicated through law's standard practices of thinking and reasoning.

Without more, thinking and reasoning are the epitome of antitheatricality legality; a set of theatrical antonyms, including transgression and instinct, offer instead a set of possibilities through which to reconceive assumptions and foundational concepts etched into the legal imaginary. And by turning to critical dramaturgy, the book reveals that the liveliness that sits behind theatrical jurisprudence isn't a new concept in law at all, but has a long pedigree and lineage that had been lost and hidden. Theatrical jurisprudence, which demands an awareness of self and beyond self, grounds a responsiveness that can't be found within doctrine, principle, or the technocratic, but also challenges us to notice what it is we think we know as well as what we know of lives in law that aren't our own.


Professor Marett Leiboff is a scholar of jurisprudence and has a wide international repuation for her research and scholarship is in the relatively new fields of cultural legal studies and law and humanities, fields which she was instrumental is shaping. She has been widely recognised for the new field of jurisprudence she's developed, which she's called theatrical jurisprudence. Her influence in the field is such that she's been asked to contribute landmark pieces to mark the field in the international journal Law and Literature, published in 2018, and invited to contribute a chapter on the field in a new Oxford Handbook on Law and the Humanities to be published in 2019.

Theatrical jurisprudence uses the insights of theatre theory and practice to help in the formation of  careful and considered legal interpreters able to notice when law reaches beyond justice, using history, biography, and different cultural forms, and how they are experienced and encountered in order to understand how lawyers interpret legal texts through time, and how non-legal experience through generational change affects that interpretation, and what this means for legal integrity.

Through this work, Marett has been invited to guest edit special issues of journals ( including the special issue Law and Humanities: Past Present and Future for the Australian Feminist Law Journal) and as a co-editor of the book collection Fables of the Law, invited by Professor Daniela Carpi for the German series Law and Literature published by de Gruyter. She and her colleague Cassandra Sharp have acheived international recognition for their edited collection Cultural Legal Studies published by Routledge.