In the domain of legal education, there is a compelling case for using popular novels as supplements to the perceptively 'dry' contents of standardized textbooks and legal materials. Their utility lies in their potential for meaningfully engaging the attention of students and to effectively highlight the wider social context behind notale legal developments. While the interface between literature and the law seems to have found a stable place in the curriculum of many law schools in Western countries, such pedagogic innovations have not become part of the mainstream curriculum in legal education in India. Even though elective courses dealing with 'Law and Literature' have been offered at some of the autonomous law universities established in recent years, there is clearly a good case for introducing regular courses devoted to this approach as well as the use of fictional works as supplemental texts for the study of several substantive areas. The scheme of this paper is to examine the possible use of three fictional works - namely Midnight's Children (Salman Rushdie, 1981), The Great Indian Novel (Shashi Tharoor, 1989) and A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry, 1995) as representative samples of such a methodology. Such efforts are likely to encounter a fair amount of resistance by those who would argue that such fictional works have no place in legal education and that the same should be confined to the study of statutes, judicial precedents and commentaries. The nascent move towards recognising 'Law and Literature' as an autonomous discipline in India will perhaps gain more acceptance if a start is made with novels that engage with India's socio-political existence rather than those of Western nations.

Custom Citation

Sidharth Chauhan, ‘Representations of the Indian Emergency in Popular Fiction’ (2009) 5(1) Socio-Legal Review 40

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