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Announcing the Publication of the 45th Anniversary Edition of James Boyd White’s The Legal Imagination

White’s groundbreaking law and literature text has been reissued by Wolters Kluwer with a new foreword by the author.

We are delighted to announce the publication of the 45th Anniversary Edition of The Legal Imagination with a new foreword by the author, James Boyd White.

First published in 1973, The Legal Imagination helped pioneer the law and literature movement, by breaking convention and urging students to understand the law beyond memorization, “to trust and follow their curiosity” and to come to terms with the nature and potential limits of legal language. In this anniversary edition, the new foreword introduces the original unabridged text, and challenges a new generation of readers to understand the language of the law through the prism of literature. 


Joe Terry, Publisher of the Legal Education group within Wolters Kluwer, commented:

“When we first published The Legal Imagination, it was groundbreaking and inspirational to a generation of legal faculty and students seeking to resituate the foundations of law in language and the human experience. Over the ensuing decades, thousands of leading legal thinkers were profoundly influenced by the title. The ongoing evolution in the law school community today is bringing the educational focus back to the perspectives that lie at the heart of The Legal Imagination.”

White encourages the reader to analyze legal and non-legal literature, including excerpts from Robert Frost, Plato, James Joyce, Albert Camus, Leo Tolstoy, and Emily Dickinson.  By juxtaposing examples of legal writing alongside poetry, philosophy, and literary criticism, White frames thought-provoking discussions on topics that intersect both legal and non-legal discourse. 

“Although this book was published 45 years ago, I think that it may be of wider relevance now than it was then, for its central concern is with integrity—integrity of the law, of language and of the individual person,” said author James Boyd White.


James Boyd White is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. During his teaching career he was the Hart Wright Professor of Law, Professor of English, and Adjunct Professor of Classics at the University of Michigan. Among his books on law and the humanities are Living Speech, Justice as Translation, and When Words Lose Their Meaning.


Maureen Kenealy is the Director of Digital Learning and Engagement for the Legal Education Division of Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S.

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