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Law and Popular Culture

A Course Book (2nd Edition)

Series:

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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1. Introduction to Law and Popular Culture

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1

Introduction to

Law and Popular Culture

1.01 What this book is about

This book is meant as the reader for a course with the general theme of “Law and Popular Culture.”1 It is suitable for undergraduate and graduate classes or seminars in American studies, criminal justice, political science, film studies or other academic programs, as well as in law schools. Therefore, it provides material on the study of popular culture that may be unfamiliar to most law students, as well as material on law, lawyers, and the legal system that may be unfamiliar to most non-law students. Each chapter, with the exception of this introduction, consists of readings based on a particular film or television show that students should view before class discussion begins. (In some classes, the films are viewed outside of class; in others, they are viewed at the beginning of the class.) Individual instructors, of course, can substitute different films or readings for those suggested.

1.02 Definitions of “popular culture” and “popular legal culture”

This book frequently uses the words “popular culture” and “popular legal culture.” What do we mean by these vague terms? ← 3 | 4 →

1.02.1 The double meaning of “popular culture” and “popular legal culture”

We use the terms popular culture (often shortened to “pop culture”) and popular legal culture in this book in two distinct ways (see Friedman 1989). These might be called...

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