Mark Weiner: "Reflections on Law’s Picture Books"

The Higher Seminar in Aesthetics

Mark Weiner, Rutgers University: "Reflections on Law’s Picture Books"

In his presentation, Mark Weiner will discuss “Law’s Picture Books,” a public exhibition of more than 140 illustrated law books from the 13th century to the present drawn from a unique collection at Yale Law Library. The books were on display in the winter of 2017 at the Grolier Club in Manhattan, North America’s oldest bibliographic society. Co-curated by Mark and his colleague Mike Widener, “Law’s Picture Books” was hailed by critics as “fascinating” (The New Yorker), “eye-opening” (The Wall Street Journal), “courageous” (Frankfurter Allegemeine), and “exceptional” (The New Criterion), and its full-color catalogue received the Joseph L. Andrews Legal Literature Award from the American Association of Law Libraries. Mark Weiner will discuss this exercise in the public legal humanities, sharing images of some of the books on display and videos specially created for the occasion—which, with a blend of serious scholarship and lightness of heart, at its core was an exploration of the relation between law and visual culture, raising questions explored in the video “A Philosophical Question” (which may be screened as well). Mark Weiner will focus his remarks on the exhibit’s conceptual organization, which classified illustrations according to their functional purpose in relation to legal knowledge, yet in doing so also sought to reveal a dynamic relationship between word and image in the history of legal publishing. Photographs of the “Law’s Picture Books” exhibition gallery are available here, and a light-hearted one-minute video about the glamorous work of creating a rare book exhibition is available here.