Legal Communication & Rhetoric: JALWD
Derek H. Kiernan-Johnson, A Shift to Narrativity, 9 Legal Comm. & Rhetoric 81 (2012), available at https://scholar.law.colorado.edu/articles/128.
Slipshod, inconsistent use of core Applied Legal Storytelling terminology muddles its discourse and hampers its growth. Refining the field’s vocabulary is essential, but insufficient, as exclusive focus on the field’s objects of inquiry, such as story and narrative, and the means of creating or conveying them, such as storytelling and narrating, risks losing the “A” in ALS. We need a new focus, one unburdened by the ambiguities and negative associations of existing options that more accurately reflects Applied Legal Storytelling scholars’ unique contributions. A shift to narrativity. Narrativity, as imagined here, is a top-level quality of a legal text or performance. Top-level qualities can complement one another — a legal brief can be both logically and grammatically sound without compromising either quality — or they can compete — as comprehensiveness and brevity sometimes do. By focusing on narrativity as a quality, Applied Legal Storytelling’s inquiries will shift from whether a particular legal text or performance is a story, or involves storytelling, to more practical, rhetorical questions of degree, type, and balance. Questions such as, What kind? How much? At what risk or cost? This new focus will not only advance our scholarship, but also inform our teaching, and give practitioners and decision-makers better tools by which to improve and resist persuasion.
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