Texas Wesleyan Law Review

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This Article argues that to understand the nomos we must study law and litigation as represented in pop culture, specifically, on television. We must acknowledge the power of legal pop culture, and then read, translate, and discern the meanings of its stories. Moreover, because the various pop cultural representations of law exert neither the same function nor force, we must also consider pop legal culture with an eye toward understanding the impact of these lexi-cultural texts. After synopsizing Cover's theory of nomos, this Article defines narrative and its critical role in understanding and institutionalizing law. Recognizing law's rich narrative regime, this Article locates within contemporary culture the dominant legal narratives. It argues that law's primary narratives appear in pop culture, commonly on television's syndicated daytime courtrooms. Indeed, the narrative structure of syndi-court as enhanced by its television production elements make it a powerful narrative force. Relying on cultivation theory adapted for genre-specific effects, this Article reports a group of studies investigating syndi-court's narrative function, that is, its ability to impart factual legal knowledge (legal rules) and normative legal knowledge as expressed as values and heuristics guiding legally-implicated behavior. The results suggest that while syndi-court does not teach specific legal rules, it does impart normative knowledge, such as when and how to litigate, along with the cultural and moral appropriateness of doing so. This Article concludes by extrapolating these results to build a theory explaining the particular ways in which syndi-court contributes to the nomos.



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