When Words Lose Their Meaning

Author: James Boyd White
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 022605604X
Format: PDF
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Through fresh readings of texts ranging from Homer's Iliad, Swift's Tale of a Tub, and Austen's Emma through the United States Constitution and McCulloch v. Maryland, James Boyd White examines the relationship between an individual mind and its language and culture as well as the "textual community" established between writer and audience. These striking textual analyses develop a rhetoric—a "way of reading" that can be brought to any text but that, in broader terms, becomes a way of learning that can shape the reader's life. "In this ambitious and demanding work of literary criticism, James Boyd White seeks to communicate 'a sense of reading in a new and different way.' . . . [White's] marriage of lawyerly acumen and classically trained literary sensibility—equally evident in his earlier work, The Legal Imagination—gives the best parts of When Words Lose Their Meaning a gravity and moral earnestness rare in the pages of contemporary literary criticism."—Roger Kimball, American Scholar "James Boyd White makes a state-of-the-art attempt to enrich legal theory with the insights of modern literary theory. Of its kind, it is a singular and standout achievement. . . . [White's] selections span the whole range of legal, literary, and political offerings, and his writing evidences a sustained and intimate experience with these texts. Writing with natural elegance, White manages to be insightful and inciteful. Throughout, his timely book is energized by an urgent love of literature and law and their liberating potential. His passion and sincerity are palpable."—Allan C. Hutchinson, Yale Law Journal "Undeniably a unique and significant work. . . . When Words Lose Their Meaning is a rewarding book by a distinguished legal scholar. It is a showcase for the most interesting sort of inter-disciplinary work: the kind that brings together from traditionally separate fields not so much information as ideas and approaches."—R. B. Kershner, Jr., Georgia Review

Justice as Translation

Author: James Boyd White
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226894966
Format: PDF, Kindle
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White extends his conception of United States law as a constitutive rhetoric shaping American legal culture that he proposed in When Words Lose Their Meaning, and asks how Americans can and should criticize this culture and the texts it creates. In determining if a judicial opinion is good or bad, he explores the possibility of cultural criticism, the nature of conceptual language, the character of economic and legal discourse, and the appropriate expectations for critical and analytic writing. White employs his unique approach by analyzing individual cases involving the Fourth Amendment of the United States constitution and demonstrates how a judge translates the facts and the legal tradition, creating a text that constructs a political and ethical community with its readers. "White has given us not just a novel answer to the traditional jurisprudential questions, but also a new way of reading and evaluating judicial opinions, and thus a new appreciation of the liberty which they continue to protect."—Robin West, Times Literary Supplement "James Boyd White should be nominated for a seat on the Supreme Court, solely on the strength of this book. . . . Justice as Translation is an important work of philosophy, yet it is written in a lucid, friendly style that requires no background in philosophy. It will transform the way you think about law."—Henry Cohen, Federal Bar News & Journal "White calls us to rise above the often deadening and dreary language in which we are taught to write professionally. . . . It is hard to imagine equaling the clarity of eloquence of White's challenge. The apparently effortless grace of his prose conveys complex thoughts with deceptive simplicity."—Elizabeth Mertz, Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities "Justice as Translation, like White's earlier work, provides a refreshing reminder that the humanities, despite the pummelling they have recently endured, can be humane."—Kenneth L. Karst, Michigan Law Review

The Edge of Meaning

Author: James Boyd White
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226894805
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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Certain questions are basic to the human condition: how we imagine the world, and ourselves and others within it; how we confront the constraints of language and the limits of our own minds; and how we use imagination to give meaning to past experiences and to shape future ones. These are the questions James Boyd White addresses in The Edge of Meaning, exploring each through its application to great works of Western culture—Huckleberry Finn, the Odyssey, and the paintings of Vermeer among them. In doing so, White creates a deeply moving and insightful book and presents an inspiring conception of mind, language, and the essence of living.

Acts of Hope

Author: James Boyd White
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226895116
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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To which institutions or social practices should we grant authority? When should we instead assert our own sense of what is right or good or necessary? In this book, James Boyd White shows how texts by some of our most important thinkers and writers—including Plato, Shakespeare, Dickinson, Mandela, and Lincoln—answer these questions, not in the abstract, but in the way they wrestle with the claims of the world and self in particular historical and cultural contexts. As they define afresh the institutions or practices for which they claim (or resist) authority, they create authorities of their own, in the very modes of thought and expression they employ. They imagine their world anew and transform the languages that give it meaning. In so doing, White maintains, these works teach us about how to read and judge claims of authority made by others upon us; how to decide to which institutions and practices we should grant authority; and how to create authorities of our own through our thoughts and arguments. Elegant and accessible, this book will appeal to anyone wanting to better understand one of the primary processes of our social and political lives.

Civil Rights Rhetoric and the American Presidency

Author: James Arnt Aune
Publisher: Texas A & M University Press
ISBN:
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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For a century and a half the words of presidents have framed, expressed, and sometimes challenged the civil rights policies of America. As James Aune notes in his introduction to this important volume, “Perhaps more than in any other policy arena, presidential discourse on civil rights and justice toward African Americans illustrates both the highest level of eloquence and the lowest level of rhetorical selfdeception possible in a representative democracy.” The authors of this book examine the ways in which American presidents and their administrations have defined the meaning of civil rights from Rutherford B. Hayes to William Jefferson Clinton. Using a variety of methodologies, the book’s contributors examine: · the depressing tale of how the Southern Redeemer presidents from Hayes to McKinley abandoned the promise of civil rights and reestablished the racial class system; · the eugenics of Calvin Coolidge’s race rhetoric; · the creative rhetorical invention of Eleanor Roosevelt and Harry Truman that laid the foundation for a positive reconstitution of the American community; · the much-debated civil rights legacy of John F. Kennedy’s administration; and · the efforts by conservative presidents to redefine the civil rights legacy in their own terms. The book’s insightful closing chapter analyzes President Clinton’s 1997–98 Race Initiative and its failure, drawing conclusions about the role of presidential rhetoric in the near future of civil rights. The original and challenging analyses and perspectives of this well-written, tightly focused volume shed light on both the history of civil rights and the practice of presidential rhetoric. Whether for individual enlightenment or for course use, readers will find the book addresses many previously unanswered questions and opens new paths for exploring the central American dilemma.

Conceptual Change and the Constitution

Author: Terence Ball
Publisher:
ISBN:
Format: PDF, Kindle
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In this volume distinguished historians and political scientists examine the linguistic and conceptual dimension of the American Founding. They analyze political discourse during the short span of years from the Revolution through ratification.

Living Speech

Author: James Boyd White
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9781400827534
Format: PDF, ePub
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Language is our key to imagining the world, others, and ourselves. Yet sometimes our ways of talking dehumanize others and trivialize human experience. In war other people are imagined as enemies to be killed. The language of race objectifies those it touches, and propaganda disables democracy. Advertising reduces us to consumers, and clichés destroy the life of the imagination. How are we to assert our humanity and that of others against the forces in the culture and in our own minds that would deny it? What kind of speech should the First Amendment protect? How should judges and justices themselves speak? These questions animate James Boyd White's Living Speech, a profound examination of the ethics of human expression--in the law and in the rest of life. Drawing on examples from an unusual range of sources--judicial opinions, children's essays, literature, politics, and the speech-out-of-silence of Quaker worship--White offers a fascinating analysis of the force of our languages. Reminding us that every moment of speech is an occasion for gaining control of what we say and who we are, he shows us that we must practice the art of resisting the forces of inhumanity built into our habits of speech and thought if we are to become more capable of love and justice--in both law and life.