The Comedy of Corpus Iuris

Peter Goodrich

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The comedy of law is a reference to the overlooked link between the common and the comic, as well as to the comédie humaine of corporeal presence in trial and judgment. This chapter proposes an addition to the genealogy of legal education by way of an analysis of the constraints, both emotional and physical, encountered in law school. At the highest level of abstraction there is the inherited dictate of an irenic reverence, of obeisance to legal hierarchy, decorum of demeanour, constraint of the body, and of affect and intuition. Enthusiasm, the explosiveness of wit, is explicitly attacked in early didactic works and in one key case, an English court determines that comedic performances are in contractual jargon impossible when the English monarch is dying. At the most serious of times, that of mourning, laughter is legally prohibited. Against such a viewpoint or dogmatic stance this essay argues for attention to what Vico termed the university of the body and the epistemology of affect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBiopolitics and Resistance in Legal Education
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781000876536
ISBN (Print)9780367775247
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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