Christopher Warren deposited History, Literature, and Authority in International Law on MLA Commons 5 years ago
One consequence of international law’s recent historical turn has been to sharpen methodological contrasts between intellectual history and international law. Scholars including Antony Anghie, Anne Orford, Rose Parfitt, and Martti Koskenniemi have taken on board historians’ interest in contingency and context but pointedly relaxed historians’ traditional stricture against presentist instrumentalism. This essay argues that such a move disrupts a longstanding division of labor between history and international law and ultimately brings international legal method closer to literature and literary scholarship. The essay therefore details several more or less endemic ways in which literature and literary studies confront challenges of presentism, anachronism, meaning, and time. Using examples from writers as diverse as Anghie, Spinoza, Geoffrey Hill, Emily St. John Mandel, China Miéville, John Hollander, Pascale Casanova, Matthew Nicholson, John Selden, Shakespeare, and Dante, it proposes a “trilateral” discussion among historians, international lawyers, and literary scholars that takes seriously the multipolar disciplinary field in which each of these disciplines makes and sustains relations with each of the others.