Adam Gearey

January 23, 1998

Adam Gearey explains how postmodernism has enabled him to marry law and literature in his doctoral research at the University of Kent.

When I came to London to begin my PhD at Birkbeck College, I found myself in the midst of intellectual ferment; there was the excitement of new ideas emerging, inspired by eclectic borrowings from diverse sources.This was the first wave of "postmodernism", which is now becoming arigorous thinking through of the limits and possibilitiesof law at the millennium's end.

My work concerns the problematicrelationship between James Joyce's chaotic novel, Finnegans Wake, and ideas of law. I tried to trace the ways the account of the giving of the law in the Bible fed into the narratives of Finnegans Wake. Just as the Bible appropriated the Jewish Old Test-ament account of the law, Joyce's novel, in its turn, rewrote the Gospel narratives, to become a messianic announcement of the female messiah and a new law of love.

These ideas could not have been thought without the encouragement of the "critical legal theory" scene. This is ranged acrossvarious institutions: the Universities of Kent, Warwick, Lancashire, Staffordshire and London, for example, all have scholars producing critical legal theory. Outside the UK there are "critical" law schools in Australia, America and Eastern Europe.

But it would be wrong to see this as a "movement". It isan impossiblecommunity of those who disagree as much as they agree. Leaning to broadly continental traditions of thought, to psychoanalysis, post-Marxism and feminism, there is a strong sense of sustained and creative dialogue in "critical" circles. The revolution in legal thought is still to come.

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