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From interpretive imagination to contingency in law : an argument for moving beyond text

Webster, Elaine (2012) From interpretive imagination to contingency in law : an argument for moving beyond text. In: The Arts and the Legal Academy. Emerging Legal Learning . Ashgate, Farnham, pp. 87-100. ISBN 9781409429111

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Abstract

This chapter explores one approach to situating the potential contribution of beyond-textual resources within legal education. It is suggested that such resources might enrich legal education by providing opportunities to engage in acts of interpretation in a format that highlights creativity. This is based upon experience of moving beyond text in the project’s practical workshop. Exercises that emphasised the necessary investment of one’s imagination in interpretation resonated with law and legal education. The use of beyond-textual resources is thereby considered as a means of encouraging learners to view the investment of imagination as a legitimate interaction with law. It is suggested that this can in turn support students to understand a foundational idea that is central to their grasp of the discipline – that law is essentially characterised by ‘contingency.’ It is argued that this approach to considering the value of moving beyond text points towards a practicable way of justifying the inclusion of beyond-textual resources within the legal curriculum.