Law Text Culture


I have previously drawn a detailed analogy between the genre of melodrama and personal injury litigation (Hardy 2004a, 2004b: 155- 77). In particular, I have identified a kind of template narrative which is revealed in the trial transcripts and judgments of personal injury trials, which I call the ‘legal injury narrative’. I have described this as an explanatory narrative that provides a structure for telling a story about how people are undeservedly injured and how they are able to have their consequential suffering recognised and alleviated. Evidence of the legal injury narrative’s content and structure can be found in collections of transcripts and judgments in the same way as the content and structure of a particular literary genre can be revealed by a study of a number of different novels. The legal injury narrative and melodrama have many similar characteristics, including the simplified and individualised attribution of blame, the passivity of the protagonist, and the fictionalised restoration of the status quo in the resolution of the narrative. In this article I will focus on another similar attribute: the text of muteness.