In his seminal work, The Rise of the Novel, Ian Watt posits an analogy between the readers of a novel and the members of a jury.This comparison has formed the foundation for much subsequent work on law-and-literature. Alexander Welsh, for example, begins his analysis of Tom Jones with Watt's analogy, which he finds "fully warranted." Given its centrality in our field, it is necessary to examine Watt's claim more closely. In this paper, I will test his analogy between reader and juror by bringing it into dialogue with a mid-Victorian novel, William Thackeray's Vanity Fair. I will then argue against the use of analogies as the basis for interdisciplinary work by demonstrating that the logic of fiction inherently resists the hermeneutic strategy of the courtroom. I will conclude by gesturing towards an alternative model of interdisciplinary analysis.
Taking Ian Watt to Court, or How Do Jurors Read Stories?,
Tex. Wesleyan L. Rev.
Available at: https://doi.org/10.37419/TWLR.V12.I1.19