Has Law & Literature Worked?
When I was a student here at Chicago, I took a fabulous class called "Law & Literature" from Professor Nussbaum. We read books like "Native Son" and "Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir" with the goal of increasing our empathy. The conceit of the Law & Literature movement, if we can call it that, is that if judges (some of us would eventually be one or otherwise be in policy setting positions) read fiction, they will reach better results because they will more fully understand the human condition. Relying heavily on Aristotle, Professor Nussbaum offered literature (what might happen) as a strong rival to history (what has happened) and economics.
So has Law & Literature had an impact on judges? We can't know for sure, but if it has we might expect citations to literature to show up in judicial opinions, especially in the empathy-evoking form favored by its proponents. In a piece in the current issue of the Green Bag, I survey federal appellate opinions for evidence of impact. (Preview: there is virtually none.) I also identify the most commonly cited authors, the judges most likely to cite to fiction, and the places in which literary citations are most likely to occur, as well as explore what this tells us about judicial opinions and the act of judging.
You can find the paper here: