Literature and the Law of Nations, 1580-1680

ISBN : 9780198831136

Christopher Norton Warren
304 ページ
156 x 234 mm

Winner, The 2016 Roland Bainton Prize in Literature

  • Provides new readings of Shakespeare, Milton, Grotius, and Hobbes
  • Makes an interesting and original contribution to the history and theory of genre
  • Offers literary scholars new perspectives on international law
  • Treats major thinkers in law, literature, and political thought under a single cover
  • Joins literary history and the history of international law

Literature and the Law of Nations, 1580-1680 is a literary history of international law in the age of Shakespeare, Milton, Grotius, and Hobbes. Seeking to revise the ways scholars understand early modern English literature in relation to the history of international law, it argues that scholars of law and literature have tacitly accepted specious but politically consequential assumptions about whether international law is "real" law. Literature and the Law of Nations shows how major writers of the English Renaissance deployed genres like epic, tragedy, comedy, tragicomedy, and history to solidify the canonical subjects and objects of modern international law. By demonstrating how Renaissance literary genres informed modern categories like public international law, private international law, international legal personality, and human rights, the book over its seven chapters and conclusion helps early modern literary scholars think anew about the legal entailments of genre and scholars in law and literature long accustomed to treating all law with a single broad brush better confront the distinct complexities, fault lines, and variegated histories at the heart of international law.


The Stakes of International Law and Literature
From Epic to Public International Law: Philip Sidney, Alberico Gentili, and "Intercourse Among Enemies"
Jacobean Comedy and the Anagnorisis of Private International Law
The Tragicomic Law of Nations: The Winter's Tale and the Union
From Imperial History to International Law: Thucydides, Hobbes, and the Law of Nations
From Biblical Tragedy to Human Rights: International Legal Personality in Grotius' Sophompaneas and Milton's Samson Agonistes
"A Problem from Hell": From Paradise Lost to the Responsibility to Protect


Christopher N. Warren is an Assistant Professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, where he teaches courses on law, literature, and the humanities. Warren's scholarship has appeared in English Literary RenaissanceThe Seventeenth Century, and the European Journal of International Law. Prior to Carnegie Mellon, Warren trained at the University of Oxford before a receiving a Harper-Schmidt fellowship in the University of Chicago's Society of Fellows.

"A rewarding book" - Andrew Hadfield, The Seventeenth Century.

"A major achievement. Warren offers a magisterial account of how early modern literary genres inflected the discourses of modern international law." - Studies in English Literature: 1500-1900

"This particular book is highly recommendable to anyone who would like to understand the exact philosophy shaping the early modern communities within the New World." - Olga Ackroyd, U.S Studies Online

"Warren's detailed and tightly-reasoned book aims primarily at an expanded intellectual history, an enterprise in which it is hugely successful; its interest in recovering traces of contemporary legal debates within literary and non-literary texts leads it to a reconstruction of early modern sense-making which sometimes borrows methodology from the history of reading. Warren's sources for excavating buried meanings include annotated copies of early texts and passages copied into commonplace books. Exploiting the full range of such resources might depend on the participation of book historians among the scholars Warren has invited to join him in the production of a new literary history of international law." - Robert O. Steele, SHARP News

"...learned, densely packed, and assiduously referenced ... Literature and the Law of Nations is an excellent piece of scholarship, exposing the intersecting worlds of literature and law, and revealing that the early modern was considerably (and admirably) more connected along these lines than is the contemporary world." - Elizabeth Sauer, Review of English Studies

"This brilliantly conceived and executed study of the principles and function of the ius gentium demonstrates how it has contributed to what we now recognize as the basis for our present international law ... Warren's history could hardly be more timely." - Constance Jordan, Renaissance Quarterly

"This book is a welcome development in law and literary studies, or law and humanities scholarship more broadly ... Warren makes a persuasive case for literature's formative role in the development of international law ... illuminating." - Rachel E. Holmes, Renaissance Studies