LAWS 2032


Course Level


Offered Externally


Course ID


Unit Value


University-wide elective course

Course owner

Course owner
UniSA Justice & Society

Course aim

The aim of the course is to introduce students to the intersection between law, literature and art. Students will consider and analyse how selected pieces of art and literature reflect the legal context of the society in which they were produced. Students will explore the relationship between law, art and literature by reviewing how law is presented in those forms. Students will also analyse the reaction of society to the depiction of human rights, the rule of law and the notion of justice in art and literature.

Course content

The course will be divided into complementary components of literature and art from specific historical periods, including but not limited to:

Topic 1: Law in literature, literature in law and law as literature.
What is art? How and why can art help us learn about and interpret law?

Topic 2: The legal questions posed by Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.
Renaissance Italy: The depiction of law and justice in Renaissance art.

Topic 3: Literature as a critique of the law, its language, its practitioners and procedures.
An exploration of the rise of the individual in Neo-Impressionism.

Topic 4: Exploring Australia’s colonial legal history through literature.
Does Australian colonial art debunk the myth of terra nullius?

Topic 5: Interpretation and Authority in Franz Kafka’s The Trial.
Does modernism reflect the decimation of the rule of law at the beginning of the 20th century?

Topic 6: An exploration of Australian identity and the idealisation of “hero” bushrangers and convicts in the context of attitudes to law historically and contemporaneously through Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly series.

Topic 7: The power of narrative in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.
Did the USA allow freedom of expression for its citizens through Abstract Expressionism or does it reflect restrictions on United States citizens’ legal rights.

Topic 8: Modern interpretations of legal practice in the USA and Australia in modern literary works and Contemporary Art.

Some topics will be covered over more than one week.


., Students may purchase a range of books dependant on their choice of seminar presentation and research essay


completed 36 units of study.



Teaching method

Component Duration
Seminar 2 hours x 2 x 10 weeks

Note: These components may or may not be scheduled in every study period. Please refer to the timetable for further details.


Contribution, Essay, Presentation


EFTSL*: 0.125
Commonwealth Supported program (Band 4C)
To determine the fee for this course as part of a Commonwealth Supported program, go to:
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Fee-paying program for domestic and international students
International students and students undertaking this course as part of a postgraduate fee paying program must refer to the relevant program home page to determine the cost for undertaking this course.

Non-award enrolment
Non-award tuition fees are set by the university. To determine the cost of this course, go to:
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Not all courses are available on all of the above bases, and students must check to ensure that they are permitted to enrol in a particular course.

* Equivalent Full Time Study Load. Please note: all EFTSL values are published and calculated at ten decimal places. Values are displayed to three decimal places for ease of interpretation.

Course Coordinators

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