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Law and Popular Culture

A Course Book (2nd Edition)


Michael Asimow and Shannon Mader

Both law and popular culture pervade our lives. Popular culture constructs our perceptions of law and changes the way that players in the legal system behave. Now in its second edition, Law and Popular Culture: A Course Book explores the interface between two subjects of enormous importance to everyone – law and popular culture.
Each chapter takes a particular legally themed film or television show, such as Philadelphia, Dead Man Walking, or Law and Order, treating it as both a cultural text and a legal text.
The new edition has been updated with new photos and includes greater emphasis on television than in the first edition because there are so many DVDs of older TV shows now available.
Law and Popular Culture is written in an accessible and engaging style, without theoretical jargon, and can serve as a basic text for undergraduates or graduate courses and be taught by anyone who enjoys pop culture and is interested in law. An instructor’s manual is available on request from the publisher and author.


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ab_fm_t5 6/6/2013 8:24 AM Page xi resents the Archdiocese of Boston, which operated the hospital. Concannon has played every dirty trick in the book to defeat Galvin. The judge seems to be in Concannon’s pocket. Galvin’s closing argument ignores the facts of the case and urges the jury to do justice. The jury returns with a stunning verdict for the plain- tiff. We leave the theater with the satisfied feeling that justice was done, but the film paints a dark picture of the character and ethics of the two lawyers. Few would be inspired to take up the legal profession after seeing this film. This book is designed to be used as the reader for a course in law and popu- lar culture. The course studies movies like To Kill a Mockingbird (Chapter 3), The Verdict (Chapter 4), and many other films and television shows. The course on law and popular culture originated as a law school offering, but the model works well in a wide range of undergraduate or graduate programs. The first edition of this book was used in programs as diverse as American studies, criminal justice, mass media, and film and television studies, and within such traditional departments as history, political science, or sociology. The course on law and pop culture explores the interface between two subjects of enormous importance to the lives of everyone—law and popular culture. Why should we care about the interaction of these subjects? Law pervades modern society. Increasingly,...

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