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Annual W&L Law and Literature Seminar to Explore Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars

On Nov.1-2, Washington and Lee University will host the 21st annual Law and Literature Seminar. Sponsored with the W&L Alumni College program, the Law and Literature Seminar is the longest running program of its kind in the country.

The seminar will be held in the Millhiser Moot Court Room, Sydney Lewis Hall. The program will again be led by Villanova Law professor Dave Caudill and W&L English professor Marc Conner. W&L Law faculty members Brian Murchison and Margaret Hu will also participate in the discussion. CLE credit is available.

This year’s seminar will focus on the prize-winning contemporary American novel, Snow Falling on Cedars. Within the framework of a courtroom drama, David Guterson’s novel explores a variety of themes: memory and guilt, racism, justice and betrayal, and small-town relationships. Set in the Puget Sound area of Washington during the 1950s, Snow Falling on Cedars follows the trial of Kabuo Miyamoto, a Japanese-American, accused of the murder of a neighbor in a small, close-knit fishing community.

Complicating the case is the deep antipathy toward the Japanese that followed World War II—Miyamoto’s family, along with all citizens of Japanese extraction in the region, had been incarcerated in California internment camps during the war. The trial is narrated by the editor of the local newspaper, himself a wounded veteran of the Pacific War.

Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award, the novel is praised by the New York Times Book Review as “finely wrought, flawlessly written.”