From the iconography of the Roman Empire to the coat of arms in a courtroom, from the Renaissance to the Internet, visual media have been integral to the expression and communication of legal ideas. Studying works of visual art allows us to get under the skin of our legal values and legal ideologies. And while artists have turned the spirit of justice and the power of the law into visual form, they have also been prominent critics of it. Injustice and suffering are given a vivid presence and an emotional weight through the visual arts, in ways that has often led the law to be fearful of its capacity to disturb and challenge us.
This course introduces students to a flourishing new area of interdisciplinary study. It offers an overview of key texts introducing theories and methods in law and visual studies. The course then explores a diverse range of topical case studies that examine law through art and art through law; including Justice, Power, Ideology, Colonialism, Environment, and War. Students undertake a journey from the Ghazi Stadium in Kabul, to the Supreme Court of Mexico, from nineteenth century Van Diemen’s Land to contemporary Australian masterworks. In the process we will learn to see both law and art through different eyes, transforming forever what and how they mean. It is offered at both 2000 level and 4000 level and is suitable both for students taking courses in the School of Art as part of their Arts degree, and in the College of Law as part of their Law degree.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- Synthesise, evaluate and compare a complex variety of textual and visual sources from a range of different disciplines and genres, and critically analyse their strategies, blind spots, problems, and effects.
- Differentiate and appraise research and methods in the fields of legal theory, law, visual studies and art history, with specific reference to the case studies chosen during the course to illustrate these fields.
- Evaluate and critically reflect on scholarship and critical approaches to law and justice as these are raised, explored, and depicted in both historical and contemporary visual materials.
- Explore and synthesise key contemporary debates shared across the disciplines of law and visual studies including sovereignty, ideology, aesthetics, iconography, and identity.
- Develop independent research skills by planning, and executing advanced interdisciplinary scholarship and research in the area of law and visual studies.
Classes may be offered in non-standard sessions and be taught on an intensive base with compulsory contact hours (a minimum of 36 hours). Please refer to the LLB timetable for dates. Please contact the ANU College of Law Student Administration Services to request a permission code to enrol in classes offered in non-standard sessions.
- Three short response pieces over the term: 600 words each, value 10% each (30) [LO 1,2,3]
- Final research essay: 3,000 words (60) [LO 4,5]
- Class particip’ion including class presentation (10) [LO 1,2,3,4]
In response to COVID-19: Please note that Semester 2 Class Summary information (available under the classes tab) is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available to enrolled students via Wattle.
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Classes offered during semester periods are expected to have 3 contact hours per week (a minimum of 36 hours). Students are generally expected to devote at least 10 hours overall per week to this course.
Requisite and Incompatibility
Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.
If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.
- Student Contribution Band:
- Unit value:
- 6 units
If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees. Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.
Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.