The text of muteness in personal injury litigation

Hardy, Samantha (2007) The text of muteness in personal injury litigation. Law Text Culture, 11. pp. 317-334.

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Abstract

This paper identifies a characteristic of the genre of melodrama that is found in personal injury litigation: the text of muteness. The paper explores the manifestation of the text of muteness in three different aspects of the narrative: mute gesture, the mute role, and the relationship between muteness and suffering. It does not suggest that there is a causal relationship between melodrama and litigation, but rather argues that there are striking similarities in the narratives, and that examining the text of muteness in personal injury litigation draws attention to a number of characteristics of the process that are often overlooked. In particular, the importance of gesture, both before and during the trial, and the particular tensions faced by a personal injury litigant in relation to verbalising their claim and their suffering. Considering the role of the plaintiff as analogous to the mute role in melodrama also focuses attention on a number of power structures often ignored in examinations of personal injury litigation. In particular, it reveals the way in which the narrative effectively renders the plaintiff mute, thus restricting the plaintiff's ability to introduce complicating factors which have the potential to undermine the legitimacy of the legal narrative. The plaintiff's muteness also reinforces the control of other characters in the legal narrative who are empowered to speak authoritatively.

Item ID: 18068
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: personal injuries; justice, communication in law; nonverbal communication
ISSN: 1322-9060
Date Deposited: 24 Oct 2011 23:56
FoR Codes: 18 LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES > 1801 Law > 180123 Litigation, Adjudication and Dispute Resolution @ 70%
19 STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 1999 Other Studies in Creative Arts and Writing > 199999 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing not elsewhere classified @ 30%
SEO Codes: 94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9404 Justice and the Law > 940406 Legal Processes @ 80%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950203 Languages and Literature @ 20%
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