What does it mean to talk about law as theater, to speak about the "performance" of transactions as mundane as the sale of a pig or as agonizing as receiving compensation for a dead kinsman? In Dark Speech, Robin Chapman Stacey explores such questions by examining the interaction between performance and law in Ireland between the seventh and ninth centuries.Exposing the inWhat does it mean to talk about law as theater, to speak about the "performance" of transactions as mundane as the sale of a pig or as agonizing as receiving compensation for a dead kinsman? In Dark Speech, Robin Chapman Stacey explores such questions by examining the interaction between performance and law in Ireland between the seventh and ninth centuries.Exposing the inner workings of the Irish legal system, Stacey examines the manner in which publicly enacted words and silences were used to construct legal and political relationships in a society where traditional hierarchies were very much in flux.Law in early Ireland was a verbal art, grounded as much in aesthetics as in the enforcement of communal norms. In contrast with modern law, no sharp distinction existed between art and politics. Visualizing legal events through the lens of procedure, Stacey helps readers recognize the creative, fluid, and inherently risky nature of these same events.While many historians have long realized the mnemonic value of legal drama to the small, principally nonliterate societies of the early Middle Ages, Stacey argues that the appeal to social memory is but one aspect of the role played by performance in early law. In fact, legal performance (like other more easily recognized forms of verbal art) created and transformed as much as it recorded....
|Title||:||Dark Speech: The Performance of Law in Early Ireland|
|Number of Pages||:||596 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Dark Speech: The Performance of Law in Early Ireland Reviews
A thorough, well-annotated, and insightful argument for the performative aspects of the legal process in early Ireland. How much of the way that Brehon law was enacted in Ireland was through well-known theatrical performances? Penalties such as distraint (someone has wronged you so you very slowly take their cows as payment, starting with entering their land and leaving, then entering and penning up the cows separately on their land, then moving the cows to somewhere closer to your land, all in stages of about ten days each giving them accused the time to settle with you and make it right before permanently losing their cows), paying the honor price for someone you have injured, hunger striking against someone powerful who has wronged you (it's shameful for them to eat when you're publicly fasting against them on their doorstep), or making a satire against someone who is unfit and holds a position of power gained their potency in part through being publicly done, and the performative aspects of redress made it so that the whole society could see the dispute and its resolution. Obviously, direct performances from an oral tradition didn't come down in full, but Stacey makes a good case from descriptions in the textual evidence that we do have. The lightbulb moment for me in reading was not that performance was inherently powerful, but that it gained its power through the accord of the community. There are some discussions about how the aristocracy represented itself as such through the power of its poetry and the beauty of its speech, but there's a middling level of mystery that's admired. Cu Chulainn and Emer's courtship, and their "can you follow what I'm saying" poetic allusion duel was admired, but examples were also given where lawmakers spoke with such voluminous obscurity that no one could understand what they were saying at all, and the king decreed that henceforth judgments would be conducted in plain talk so that all could understand. (So, basically, if you Brehon nerd so hard that your audience can't follow you at all, they may pitch that process as too obscure.) For modern Celts looking to this as inspiration, I think that consensus is the hard part to achieve... we live in different societies with different laws, and so even within subcultures it's difficult to get that supportive consensus of what justice looks like, and how it ought to be seen to be done. I wasn't super fond of the Carolingian diversion in the conclusion, but I can easily mentally edit that out and still wholeheartedly recommend the book to anyone who wants some Brehon nerding or perspective on early Irish societies.