This thesis explores the connections between the language of the courtroom and Shakespeare’s works. In particular, my research centres on the appropriation of Shakespeare by the judiciary and surveys the practice of employing Shakespearean quotation and allusion in judgment writing. It includes the development of the Shakespeare in English Law Database (SH.I.E.L.D). This project will serve as an online catalogue of several hundred references, spanning cases from the last two centuries.
The analysis includes observations on the wider practice of literary quotation by judges, Shakespeare’s presence in the jurisprudence of other jurisdictions and in super-national courts such as the European Court of Human Rights. I consider the rhetorical gains and disadvantages of invoking Shakespeare as well as the implications for enhancing his cultural value through this utilisation of the works within the powerful social mechanism of the law courts.
I am a practising barrister and undertake study on a part-time basis. Dual qualifications in law and Arts provide a wide perspective and professional contacts in both fields. I hope to develop the work into a PhD.