The Columns

Annual Law and Literature Seminar to Explore McEwan’s “The Children Act”

— by on October 27th, 2015

Washington and Lee University School of Law will host the 2015 Law and Literature Seminar on Nov. 6-7. Now in its 23rd year, the seminar will focus on “The Children Act,” a new novel by acclaimed British writer Ian McEwan, author of “Atonement,” “Amsterdam” (which won the Booker Prize), “Sweet Tooth,” and other works.

In The Children Act, legal issues and personal repercussions take center stage. The woman at the heart of the story, Fiona Maye, is an English judge whose docket consists of highly contentious family law cases. In one case, legal rules and religious belief come into sharp conflict, allowing McEwan to delve deeply into questions of identity, responsibility, and the limits of human understanding.

Another conflict in the novel concerns the intersection between the private self and the public, judicial persona in Fiona, a conflict compounded by a marital crisis that unsettles her settled life and nudges her closer to judicial misconduct. A reviewer in The New York Review of Books wrote that this book is “among the best and most accomplished novels has ever written.”

Faculty for the weekend will include law professors Brian Murchison and Ann Massie, former W&L law professor David Caudill, and English professor Marc Conner.

The program is co-sponsored with the W&L Alumni College program. The seminar has been approved for two hours of CLE ethics credit and is open to anyone interested in law and literature.

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