Telling Stories Out Of School An Essay On Legal Narratives Meaning

Julia Chaitin

July 2003

Stories, Narratives, and Storytelling

"...I have given several dozens of talks, often to Jewish audiences about the work of the TRT. Invariably there will be at least one person in the audience who angrily wonders why I want to "help THEM?" It has become clear to me that listening to each others' stories in a safe setting is tremendously healing. This healing can only happen when members from both sides come together... It is so easy to remain submerged in the pain and anger, even hatred, and to become attached to the victim role... I simply had to confront these issues, because I have three daughters, and I absolutely did not want them to hate an entire nation based on historical events..." --  A member of TRT (To Reflect and Trust -- an international dialogue group, comprised of descendants of Nazi perpetrators and Holocaust survivors; Palestinians and Israelis; Catholics and Protestants from Northern Ireland; and blacks and whites from South Africa)

People are storytellers -- they tell narratives about their experiences and the meanings that these experiences have for their lives. All cultures and societies also possess their own stories or narratives about their past and their present, and sometimes about their view of the future. These narratives include stories of greatness and heroism, or stories of periods characterized by victimhood and suffering. In this module, we will explore different aspects of storytelling and narratives and look at their connection to conflicts, reconciliation, and peacebuilding.

According to Webster's dictionary, a narrative is"a discourse, or an example of it, designed to connect a succession of happenings."[1] Adding the definition offered by the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language,[2] we learn that a narrative is "a story or description of actual or fictional events; or the act, technique or process of narrating." Taken together, then, a story or a narrative combines either real or imagined events that connect in such a way to provide a chain of events that are recounted to others. Over the last 20 years, there has been an upsurge in the study of narratives in the social sciences in general, and in the study of conflicts and peacebuilding in particular. This relatively recent emphasis on the narrative and its focal position in human lives has been termed "the narrative turn."[3]

Features of Stories

The psychologist and narrative scholar Dan McAdams notes that people expect a story to have a number of features.[4] All stories or narratives have a setting, which is usually made clear early on. While not all stories develop their settings, some evoke vivid associations of particular times or places. When the setting is ambiguous, the listener or reader of the story may feel confused or disoriented. The second element is characters -- the players in the action.As the story proceeds, we learn certain basic information about the characters in the story -- what they look like, how old they are, their dreams and wishes, etc. Thirdly, we expect a story to have at least one plot -- actions which have consequences and reactions to these consequences by and for the characters. A story may contain one episode or may have a sequence of episodes that includes the basic elements noted above. In a story, an initiating event leads to an attempt on the part of a character. The consequence gives rise to a reaction. Episodes follow one another, building on one another as the story takes form. Within this basic story structure, there are numerous variations and conventions which can enhance a story's tension. As tension builds across episodes, we desire an eventual resolution of the problem faced by one or more of the characters. This relief occurs in the climax, or turning point in the story, followed by the denouement.[5]


One kind of story is a myth -- a story that gains wide acceptance and is often deemed sacred for its ability to communicate a fundamental truth about life. Such a story may be incorporated into different levels: the individual, group, family, organization, society, and/or culture. Myths contain archetypal symbols that help make us conscious of and curious about our origins and destiny and they capture a society's basic psychological, sociological, cosmological, and metaphysical truths.[6] In short, myths reflect the most important concerns of a people, and they help preserve the culture's integrity.[7]

The use of myths in nationalistic-based conflicts has been explored by the political scientist and analyst van Evera.[8] This scholar has noted that when nationalist movements embrace self-glorifying or other-denigrating myths about its own or others' conduct and character, then their nationalism becomes more dangerous and may more easily lead to violent conflict.


Additional insights into narratives and storytelling are offered by Beyond Intractability project participants.

Narratives/stories are produced in order to be recounted to others. McAdams notes a few basic aspects of storytelling -- the oral or written sharing of our stories with others.[9] A culture's "stories create a shared history, linking people in time and event as actors, tellers, and audience."[10] Stories are not merely chronicles of what happened; they are more about meanings. As people talk about the past in a subjective and embellished way, the past is continually reconstructed.[11] This history is judged to be true or false, not solely with respect to its adherence to empirical fact, but with respect to narrative criteria such as believability and coherence.

Jerome Bruner has argued that one of the ways in which people understand their world is through the "narrative mode" of thought, which is concerned with human wants, needs, and goals.[12] The narrative mode deals with the dynamics of human intentions; when in this mode, we seek to explain events by looking at how human actors (including ourselves) strive to do things over time. As we comprehend these actions, we see what obstacles were encountered and which intentions were realized or frustrated.

People are drawn to stories for a number of reasons: they can entertain us, help us organize our thoughts, fill us with emotion, keep us in suspense, or instruct us in how to live and act. They also often present dilemmas concerning what is moral and immoral behavior. At times, stories can also heal us when we feel "broken" or ill, moving us toward new psychological understandings of self and our social world. This is the case, for example, when mental health professionals employ narrative therapy in their work with their clients in order to help them to reframe their life story in a more holistic and integrative way than it was in the past.[13]

Telling one's story, through oral or written means, has been shown to be a key experience in people's lives, especially those who have undergone severe social trauma. This has been the case for many of the thousands of Holocaust survivors who have given their testimonies in institutions around the world such as Yale University,[14] the Survivors of the Holocaust Visual History Foundation project, and Yad Vashem, the national Holocaust museum and memorial in Israel. While the storytelling of their traumatic past does not always have a healing effect for the survivors, it opens up channels of thoughts, feelings, and communication that have often been closed for years. Having the opportunity to recount one's traumatic past to an empathic listener, especially when one can integrate the traumas into present-day life, can often lead to the telling of deeply personal stories that may have been previously "forgotten" or "denied."[15]

Storytelling has also been used by Palestinians to recount the suffering that they have incurred since they were dispossessed of their land over the years.[16] These stories often include experiences of deportation/escape, life in the camps in Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, and dreams of returning to their former homes.

Storytelling in Conflict Situations

The recounting of personal stories in situations, which aim to reduce inter-group conflicts and to enhance peacebuilding and reconciliation between adversaries, has been used within the last decade in a number of contexts around the world. Perhaps the most famous context is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which was established in South Africa in 1995 in order to start healing some of the deep wounds of the Apartheid years.[17] The main vehicle of the TRC for this purpose was public storytelling: "...The objectives of the Commission shall be to promote national unity and reconciliation in a spirit of understanding which transcends the conflicts...of the past by...establishing as complete a picture as possible of the causes, nature and extent of the gross violations of human rights which were committed during the period... including... the perspectives of the victims and the motives and perspectives of the persons responsible for the commission of the violations...the granting of amnesty to persons who make full disclosure of all the relevant facts relating to acts associated with a political objective...and ...making known the fate or whereabouts of victims and by restoring the human and civil dignity of such victims by granting them an opportunity to relate their own accounts of the violations of which they are the victims..."[18]

Storytelling and narratives have been used since the 1990s to reduce conflicts and work toward reconciliation between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, blacks and whites in South Africa, Palestinians and Israelis, and between descendants of Holocaust survivors and Nazi perpetrators. Two examples of institutions/groups in which I am involved that use stories and storytelling for these purposes are PRIME -- the Peace Research Institute in the Middle East and the TRT -- To Reflect and Trust.

PRIME is a jointly run Palestinian-Israeli research non-governmental organization (NGO) that undertakes cooperative social research that studies issues that have great importance for both peoples. Research projects are designed to explore crucial psycho-social and educational aspects of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and to use the findings for peacebuilding work. Two of PRIME's current projects involve narratives and storytelling, albeit in very different ways.

The objectives of PRIME's Oral History Refugee Project are two-fold -- one short-term and one long-term. A joint Palestinian-Israeli team is currently collecting life history interviews from Jewish-Israelis who once were either refugees from the Holocaust or from their North African and Asian homelands, in which they were persecuted. The Jewish-Israelis who are being interviewed moved from the refugee status to citizen status in Israel, establishing settlements in places that were once Arab villages/land. The Palestinian biographers have been refugees since the events of 1948 (statehood, and the War of Independence for Israel, "the catastrophe" -- Al Naqba for the Palestinians) and currently live in refugee camps in the West Bank, some of which came from areas where the Jewish-Israeli biographers have lived for the past 50 years. All of the interviews are being videotaped and will be readied for entry into computers so that researchers, educators, and students will be able to view the interviews in their entirety.

The long-term objective is to learn from these encounters in order to design and run educational activities for young people and peacebuilding encounters between the refugees and/or their descendants. In these activities, the Palestinians will visit places where their homes once were and the Israelis will visit refugee camps where the Palestinians now live. Perhaps more importantly, the encounters are planned to allow the participants to share their life stories with one another and together look for ways to work toward decreased hatred and violence between the two peoples and increased understanding of the other. We see this project as having the potential to be an important step in peacebuilding between Israelis and Palestinians. It is our hope that the collection and telling of personal narratives will serve as a regional truth and reconciliation process that will run parallel to the formal peace process. Unfortunately, Israelis and Palestinians tend to be unaware of many aspects of their joint history and of the suffering of the other. The narrated, computerized testimonies will make it possible for children, educators, researchers, and the public at large to use these stories for peacebuilding purposes.

The second project, Writing the Shared History, involves Palestinian and Jewish-Israeli high school teachers who are jointly preparing a textbook, in both Hebrew and Arabic, that will present the narratives of both sides on a number of key social-political-historical events (e.g. the 1948 war, the first Intifada, etc.). Each side's narratives are being translated into the other's language, with blank pages left for the students to write down their thoughts, feelings, and understandings of the texts. The textbooks will be used in conjunction with class discussions and activities that will aim toward a reduction in animosity and hatred of the other.

The idea for the joint textbook of historical narratives grew out of the knowledge that in periods of intractable conflicts, nations tend to teach their children their own narratives (often through the vehicle of textbooks) as the only correct one, while completely ignoring their enemy's narratives. If they do include the enemy narrative, it is always presented as being wrong and unjustifiable. These textbooks, which also include [nation-legitimized knowledge, convince children that there is a necessity to continue to dehumanize the enemy, and this leads to the development of negative attitudes and values toward the other. This state of affairs is very clear in the Palestinian-Israeli situation and has been studied in the joint research of Palestinian and Israeli history textbooks undertaken by Firer (an Israeli) & Adwan (a Palestinian).[19]

As in the Oral History Refugee Project, it is our hope that the experience gained from Writing the Shared History will help in the future when both Palestinians and Israelis are ready to return to dialogue, as opposed to violent means, as the main vehicle of intergroup interaction.

The second framework in which I am involved that uses storytelling as its main mode of work is the TRT -- To Reflect and Trust.[20] The TRT is an international organization that began in 1992 as an encounter group between descendants of Nazi perpetrators and of Jewish Holocaust survivors. These individuals met together in a self-supporting atmosphere to tell one another their life stories in an attempt to better work through (that is, learn to live with) their pasts, in particular their parents' experiences during WWII.[21] In 1998, the TRT invited former/present enemies from Northern Ireland, Palestine/Israel, and South Africa to join their work. Publications, documentary movies,[22] and several year-round projects have resulted from the decade of work of the TRT.

The TRT meets once a year, each time in the country of one of the conflict groups, for a week-long seminar. Group members are comprised of practitioners, educators, researchers, artists, and community workers. In these encounters, the members of the group, who facilitate themselves, sit together in small groups and tell one another their life histories, within the context of their conflict. While telling one's story is a major aspect of the TRT meetings, empathically listening to the story of the "enemy" comprises the main, and extremely difficult, work of the members. The TRT refrains from entering into political dialogues, which have been shown to hinder dialogue, rather than encourage it.[23] Learning to contain the stories of the other, to hear their pain and to legitimize their narrative, while not negating your own pain and story, is the main work and "product" of the TRT process.

The TRT process appears to be a mode of group work that resonates with peoples from many different areas of conflict. It has been shown to be successful in that it has duplicated itself, albeit with modifications relevant for each group, in different contexts and settings. Perhaps the best-known offspring of the TRT is Towards Healing and Understanding, an organization establishedin Northern Ireland that has run a number of residentials (overnight conferences) and seminars.[24]

Summary and Conclusions

Stories, narratives, and storytelling are central aspects of all cultures. They play key roles both in the escalation and potentially the de-escalation of intergroup conflicts. In order for the storytelling to be effective, it must engage the self and other, and provide a narrative that is both cognitively and emotionally compelling. While denigrating myths of the other and self-aggrandizing myths of self can refuel the winds of hate, the open and honest recounting of one's life story, and the willingness to be an empathic listener for the other, even if this other has caused your group suffering and pain in the past, can open the door for peacebuilding and coexistence.

[1] Webster's Third International Dictionary (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1966), 1503.

[2] American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, (1966) 873.

[3] McAdams, D.P., Josselson, R. & Lieblich, A., eds. Turns in the Road: Narrative Studies of Lives in Transition (American Psychological Association, 2001).

[4] McAdams, D.P. The Stories We Live By (New York: The Guilford Press, 1993).

[5] ibid, 25-26.

[6] McAdams, 1993.

[7] Levi-Strauss, C. The Raw and the Cooked: Introduction to a Science of Mythology (Vol. 1) (New York: Harper & Row, 1969).

[8] Van Evera, S. "Hypotheses on nationalism and war." International Security 18, no. 4 (1994): 5-39.

[9] McAdams, 1993.

[10] Ibid, 28.

[11] Yehezkel, A. La'arog et Sipor Hachaim (Keter: Jerusalem, 1955), (in Hebrew).

[12] Bruner, J. Acts of Meaning (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990).

[13] For example, White, M. Narrative Therapy [on-line]. Available from Accessed November 6, 2002.

[14] Langer, L. Holocaust Testimonies: The Ruins of Memory. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991).

[15] Bar-On, D. & Chaitin, J. Parenthood and the Holocaust. (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 2001).

[16] For example, Lynd, S., Bahour, S. & Lynd, A. eds. Homeland: Oral Histories of Palestine and Palestinians (New York: Olive Branch Press, 1994).

[17] Truth & Reconciliation Commission. Available at Accessed January 29, 2003.

[18] No. 34 of 1995: promotion of national unity and reconciliation act, 1995. [on-line] Available at Accessed January 29, 2003.

[19] Adwan, S. & Firer, R. The narrative of Palestinian Refugees During the War of 1948 in Israeli and Palestinian History and Civic Education Textbooks (UNESCO, Paris, 1997); Adwan, S and Firer, R. The Narrative of the 1967 war in the Israeli and Palestinian History and Civics Textbooks and Curricula Statement. (Georg eckert Institute: Braunschwieg, Germany, 1999); Adwan, S. and Firer, R. The Narrative of the Israeli Palestinian Conflict In History and Civics Textbooks and Curricula Statement. (Georg Eckert Institute: Braunschwieg, Germany, 2000).

[20] Bar-On, D., ed. Bridging the Gap: Storytelling as a Way to Work Through Political and Collective Hostilities. [on-line] (Hamburg : Korber-Stiftung, 2000). Available at

[21] Bar-On, D. & Kassem, F. Storytelling as a way to work-through intractable conflicts: The German-Jewish experience and its relevance to the Palestinian -- Israeli context (2002).

[22] Time Watch. Children of the Third Reich. (London: BBC production, 1993).

[23] Steinberg, S. & Bar-On, D. "An analysis of the group process in encounters between Jews and Palestinians using a typology for discourse classification." International Journal of Intercultural Relations 26, (2002), 199-214.

[24] Haughey and Leslie address international peace conference. News Releases: The Office of First Minister and the Deputy First Minister. [on-line] Available from Accessed November 8, 2002.

Use the following to cite this article:
Chaitin, Julia. "Narratives and Storytelling." Beyond Intractability. Eds. Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess. Conflict Information Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder. Posted: July 2003 <>.

Additional Resources


    Both the social sciences and the humanities have provided new grounds for critique of law and legal studies. From a humanistic perspective, the new critique focuses on textual and con-textual "readings" of law, viewing law as cultural artifact, formed within a culture of argument (rhetoric). For a look at narrative from the broader perspective of the humanities, see James Boyd White, Intellectual Integration, 82 Nw.U.L.Rev. 1 (1987) and Wayne C. Booth, The Company We Keep: An Ethics of Fiction (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988).

    Today the resistance to legal positivism and it's contemporary clones, comes packaged as anti-foundational philosophies (Stanley Fish and Richard Rorty), the "turn to interpretation" (driven by high energy efforts to shape and confine our readings of the Constitution), the "call to context" (Martha Minow), pragmatism (a neo-liberal philosophical creed), and cultural, race and gender studies (i.e., "outsider" jurisprudence, feminist jurisprudence, critical race theory). These various strands of contemporary philosophical, hermeneutical, and literary discourse are sometimes yoked together. (See e.g., anti-foundationalism, pragmatism, and narrative, in Dennis M. Patterson, Law's Pragmatism: Law as Practice & Narrative, 76 Va. L. Rev. 937 (1990)). In feminist jurisprudence, one finds a weaving of critical, political, personal, and contextual strands of contemporary scholarship and a deep receptivity to narrative.

    The narrative perspective becomes increasing recognized as an integral feature of jurisprudence as the phantasy of law as an autonomous and independent discipline gives way, as it has on a number of discipline fronts: psychology (who now remembers the efforts to establish a psychoanalytic jurisprudence?); anthropology (Clifford Geertz is invited to give the prestigious Storrs Lectures at Yale Law School in 1981); sociology; economics (the law and economics movement has had a significant impact on legal education); history (e.g, Morton Horowitz); philosophy; theology (the work of Thomas Shaffer, Robert Rodes, and Harold Berman come to mind). Law has become a subject of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary focus.

    "The notion that storytelling is ubiquitous in the law�and in human interactions generally�has recently attained something like the status of a truth universally acknowledged. Interest in storytelling and the law has been expressed from a dizzying variety of directions, including critical legal studies, feminist jurisprudence, law and economics, the new pragmatism, and critical race theory." Jane B. Baron, The Many Promises of Storytelling in Law (Review Essay), 23 Rutgers L. J. 79 (1991).

    Baron, commenting on the uses of narrative in a legal setting, finds that "what has been written about under the rubric of 'storytelling' and 'narrative' involves at least three quite different subjects: the place in legal education and doctrine of the personal stories of actual people; the stories that legal doctrines tell about the world, its problems and its potential; and the way in which stories are or can be used strategically as a method to enhance the quality of communication between actors in legal settings such as law offices and courtrooms. Interest in each of these three subjects seems to have developed independently of interest in the others, and those writing in one area rarely address directly those writing in another." [pp. 80-81] ["[M]any have claimed that, through storytelling, we can change law and how it is practiced. While these claims are difficult to sustain, the aspiration underlying them�the rethinking of our understanding of justice�cannot be lightly dismissed." [Baron, at p. 81]]

    For an economical and accessible introduction to the various strands of narrative jurisprudence, see Jane B. Baron, The Many Promises of Storytelling in Law (Review Essay), 23 Rutgers L. J. 79 (1991). A reader would also be well advise to peruse the law review symposiums devoted to the subject: Lawyers as Storytellers & Storytellers as Lawyers: An Interdisciplinary Symposium Exploring the Use of Storytelling in the Practice of Law, 18 Ver. L. Rev. 581 (1994); Pedagogy of Narrative, 40 J. Leg. Educ. 1-150 (1990); Legal Storytelling, 87 Mich. L. Rev. 2073-2494 (1989).

    Some of the "Pedagogy of Narrative" Symposium articles that first appeared in the Journal of Legal Education symposium issue articles are reproduced in David Ray Papke (ed.), Narrative and the Legal Discourse (Liverpool: Deborah Charles Publications, 1991). For a review of the Papke collection of essays on narrative jurisprudence and thoughtful reflections on the various strands of thinking in the legal storytelling and narrative movement, see Jane B. Baron, The Many Promises of Storytelling in Law (Essay Review), 23 Rutgers L.J. 79 (1991).

    A frequently cited law review article on the narrative perspective is Robert Cover, Nomos and Narrative, 97 Harv. L. Rev. 4 (1983). Cover continued his exploration of narrative jurisprudence in The Folktales of Justice: Tales of Jurisdiction, 14 Cap. U. L. Rev. 179 (1985).

    For the jurisprudentially inclined, see Robin West, Jurisprudence as Narrative: An Aesthetic Analysis of Modern Legal Theory, 60 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 145 (1985). For a practical application of West's suggestion that we find literary genres in our jurisprudential schemes, see David R. Papke, Discharge as Denouement: Appreciating the Storytelling of Appellate Opinions, 40 J. Legal Educ. 145 (1990).

    For more skeptical views of the new narrative perspective, see Tristan Layle Duncan, Narrative Jurisprudence: The Remystification of the Law, 7 J. Law and Religion 105 (1989); Ann M. Couglin, Regulating the Self: Autobiographical Performances in Outsider Scholarship, 81 Va. L. Rev. 1229 (1995); Mark Tushnet, The Degradation of Constitutional Discourse, 81 Geo. L.J. 251 (1992); Daniel A. Farber and Suzanna Sherry, Telling Stories out of School: An Essay on Legal Narratives, 45 Stan. L. Rev. 807 (1993); Richard Posner, Law and Literature: A Misunderstood Relation (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988). Posner's book was widely reviewed but critically disclaimed. For a comprehensive rebuttal to Posner's approach to law and literature, see James Boyd White, What Can a Lawyer Learn From Literature? (Book Review), 102 Harv. L. Rev. 2014 (1989)(a sustained theoretical and scholarly response to Posner's work).

    There are two journals that focus on law and humanities and law and literature but neither journal has devoted much attention to narrative and story-telling. The Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities was first published in 1988 and the Cardozo Studies in Law and Literature in 1989. The appearance of these journals signal the evolution of law and literature as a field of academic study but neither serves as an effective vehicle for the story and narrative perspective in legal education.

    The Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities, by way of a "Note from the Editors" in its first issue celebrates the re-emergence of the humanities as a significant "voice" in the study of law. Note from the Editors, 1 Yale J. L. & Human. v (1988). The Editors suggest (by implication) that the humanities have made their way into legal studies as part of an interdisciplinary movement that is "sweeping away the division of law and the humanities." The purpose of the humanities perspective in law, if we follow the celebratory theme of the Editors of the Journal of Law and the Humanities, is to study "the connections between the words we use and the world that we make," "the socio-cultural narratives that shape legal meaning," and "the formation, boundaries, and persistent intervention of legal culture in various spheres of life."

    The contemporary narrative and story-telling perspective in law and legal scholarship has been most thoroughly explored in the work of James Boyd White. See The Legal Imagination: Studies in the Nature of Legal Thought and Expression (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1973); When Words Lose Their Meaning: Constitutions and Reconstitutions of Language, Character, and Community (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984); Heracles' Bow: Essays on the Rhetoric and Poetics of the Law (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985); Justice as Translation: An Essay in Cultural and Legal Criticism Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990); Acts of Hope: Creating Authority in Literature, Law, and Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994). For an introduction to White's work, see "A Way of Reading," in James Boyd White, When Words Lose Their Meaning: Constitutions and Reconstitutions of Language, Character, and Community 3-23 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984).

    Thomas Shaffer (drawing on the work of his colleague, theologian Stanley Hauerwas) has focused on narrative as a way to re-vision the pedagogy of lawyer ethics. Shaffer's work includes: Faith and the Professions (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1988); The Legal Ethics of Belonging, 49 Ohio St. L. J. 703 (1988); The Legal Ethics of Radical Individualism, 65 Tex. L. Rev. 963 (1987); On Being a Professional Elder, 62 Notre Dame Law. 624 (1987); The Profession as a Moral Teacher, 18 St. Mary's L. J. 195 (1986); The Ethics of Dissent and Friendship in the American Professions, 88 W. Va. L. Rev. 623 (1986); Christian Lawyer Stories and American Legal Ethics, 33 Mercer L. Rev. 877 (1982); Henry Knox and the Moral Theology of Law Firms, 38 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 347 (1981); The Moral Theology of Atticus Finch, 42 U. Pitt. L. Rev. 181 (1981); Stanley Hauerwas and Thomas L. Shaffer, Hope in the Life of Thomas More, 54 Notre Dame Law. 569 (1979). Shaffer's narrative-oriented legal ethics teaching materials are collected in American Legal Ethics: Text, Readings, and Discussion Topics (New York: Matthew Bender, 1985). For Shaffer's earlier work, see: On Being a Christian and a Lawyer (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1981).

    For an introduction to Shaffer's views on narrative, see: The Moral Theology of Atticus Finch, 42 U. Pitt. L. Rev. 181 (1981)(Exploring the moral lessons that can be drawn from Harper Lee's, To Kill a Mockingbird); Henry Knox and the Moral Theology of Law Firms, 38 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 347 (1981); and Christian Lawyer Stories and American Legal Ethics, 33 Mercer L. Rev. 877 (1982).

    For critiques and assessments of Shaffer's perspective, see John D. Ayer, Narrative in the Moral Theology of Tom Shaffer (Review Essay), 40 J. Legal Educ. 173 (1990); James R. Elkins, The Reconstruction of Legal Ethics as Ethics (Essay Review), 35 J. Legal Educ. 274 (1986). Ayer argues that while Thomas Shaffer's choice of stories in recent writings are "tolerably diverse," they are basically "middle-brow." The protagonists in Shaffer's stories tend, Ayer argues, to be a "mainline bunch." (182). Ayer goes on to complain that Shaffer's accounts of his protagonists tend toward "excess admiration." (184). Ayer doesn't find Shaffer's work totally devoid of critical perspective, but argues that, with a notable exception, it lacks a "sufficient sense of irony" in his narrative writings. (184). My own view of Shaffer's work is less critical. I confess to having what Ayer would call "excess admiration" for Shaffer's essays of the past decade that use narrative to focus our philosophical (and theological) concerns about the legal profession.

    For readers who seek application of the narrative perspective to practical aspects of the lawyering enterprise, see: Kathryn Holmes Snedaker, Storytelling in Opening Statements: Framing the Argumentation of the Trial, 10 Amer. J. Trial Advocacy 15 (1986); Dennis Kurzon, How Lawyers Tell Their Tales: Narrative Aspects of a Lawyer's Brief, 14 Poetics 467 (1985); Douglas W. Maynard, Narratives and Narrative Structure in Plea Bargaining, 22 Law & Soc. Rev. 449 (1988); William M. O'Barr & John M. Conley, Litigant Satisfaction Versus Legal Adequacy in Small Claims Court Narratives, 19 Law & Soc. Rev. 661 (1985); Thomas Shaffer and James R. Elkins, Legal Interviewing and Counseling 22-45 (St. Paul, Minnesota: West Publishing, 1987).

    For an effort to put stories to work to understand the deeper meaning of lawyering, see: James R. Elkins, Pathologizing Professional Life: Psycho-Literary Case Stories, 18 Vt. L. Rev. 581-643 (1994).

    For law teachers looking to use narrative in the classroom, instructive commentary can be found in Alison Grey Anderson, Lawyering in the Classroom: An Address to First Year Students, 10 Nova L. J. 271 (1986). On the use of stories in the education of lawyers, see: James Boyd White, What Can a Lawyer Learn from Literature? (Book Review), 102 Harv. L. Rev. 2014 (1989); L.H. LaRue, Teaching Legal Ethics by Negative Example: John Dean's Blind Ambition, 10 Legal Stud. F. 315 (1986); "Literature Touches a Lawyer's Task," Insight, October 3, 1988.

    For an account of legal education, drawing on student stories of their legal education experience, see: James R. Elkins, Writing Our Lives: Making Introspective Writing a Part of Legal Education, 29 Willamette Law Review 41-68 (1993); The Quest for Meaning: Narrative Accounts of Legal Education, 38 J. Legal Educ. 577 (1988); Rites of Passage: Law Students "Telling Their Lives", 35 J. Legal Educ. 27 (1985); Worlds of Silence: Women in Law School, 8 Amer. Legal Stud. F. 1-161 (1984)(James R. Elkins ed.); Becoming a Lawyer: The Transformations of Self During Legal Education, 66 Soundings 450 (1983); Coping Strategies in Legal Education, 16 L. Tchr. 195 (1982).
    James C. Foster, a political scientist at Oregon State, has written a number of exemplary accounts of legal education drawing on extensive interviews with students trying to come to grips with the meaning of their legal educations. See James C. Foster, Antigones in the Bar: Women Lawyers as Reluctant Adversaries, 10 Legal Stud. F. 287 (1986); Legal Education and the Production of Lawyers to (Re)Produce Liberal Capitalism, 9 Legal Stud. F. 179 (1985); The "Cooling Out" of Law Students, 3 Law & Pol. Quart. 243 (1981) (reprinted in Richard A. L. Gambitta, Marlynn L. May & James C. Foster (eds.), Governing Through Courts (Beverly Hills, California: Sage, 1981).

    Some of the most striking and evocative story-telling being done in legal education is that of Patricia Williams: The Obliging Shell: An Informal Essay on Formal Equal Opportunity, 87 Mich. L. Rev. 2128 (1989); On Being the Object of Property, 14 Signs 5 (1988); Spirit- Murdering the Messenger: The Discourse of Fingerpointing as the Law's Response to Racism, 42 U. Miami L. Rev. 127 (1987); On Being Invisible, 4 Harv. Blackletter J. 16 (1987); Alchemical Notes: Reconstructing Ideals from Deconstructed Rights, 22 Harv. Civ. Rts.-Civ. L. Rev. 401 (1987); Grandmother Sophie, 3 Harv. Blackletter J. 79 (1986). Williams' early work is collected in Patricia Williams, The Alchemy of Race and Rights (1991).

    Feminists have generally found the narrative perspective an ally. See generally, Kathryn Abrams, Hearing the Call of Stories, 79 Calif. L. Rev. 971 (1991). On narrative and gender, see the searing story meditations of Marie Ashe, Zig-Zag Stitching and the Seamless Web, 13 Nova L. Rev. 355 (1989).

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