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Law and madness? Madness, it seems, exists outside the law and, in principle, society struggles to keep these slippery terms separate. From this perspective, madness appears to be law's foil, the chaos that escapes law's control and simultaneously justifies its existence. Law's Madness explores the gray area between the realms of reason and madness.
The distinguished contributors to Law's Madness propose a fascinating interdisciplinary approach to the instability and mutual permeability of law and madness. Their essays examine a variety of discursive forms—from the literary to the historical to the psychoanalytic—in which law is driven more by narrative than by reason. Their studies delineate the ways in which the law takes its definition in part from that which it excludes, suppresses, or excises from itself, illuminating the drive to enforce barriers between non-reason and legality, while simultaneously shedding new light on the constitutive force of the irrational in legal doctrine.
Law's Madness suggests that the tense and paradoxical relationship between law and madness is precisely what erects and sustains law. This provocative collection asks what must be forgotten in order to uphold the rule of law.
"A thoroughly engaging collection of essays that plumbs the nuances of an important topic. While many have observed law's role as a bulwark against passion and chaos, the essays in Law's Madness suggest that law and madness actually constitute each other. Thus, what we think of as 'law' always emerges from the unstable effort to distinguish official legal doctrine from that which is repressed as something other than law. This book will be a 'must have' for numerous scholars interested in interdisciplinary examinations of law, from sociolegal studies to law and humanities to legal behavioralism."
—Paul Schiff Berman, University of Connecticut School of Law
Austin Sarat is the recipient of the 2006 James Boyd White Prize from the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities, awarded for distinguished scholarly achievement and outstanding and innovative contributions to the humanistic study of law
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