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Dr Thomas Giddens
University of Dundee

If you are hoping for an interesting and concise paper about the cutting edge concerns of the legal discipline, then you should stop reading now. Lemony Snicket’s history of the tragic events surrounding the Baudelaire orphans is a detailed and morbidly entertaining account that constructively requires, and thus inculcates in its readers, values of scholarly endeavour as a means of achieving justice and good citizenship. It is a performative argument for justice-as erudition, or virtue from diligent study, that mirrors—in both its title and content—the broad structures of the common law. The current paper, meanwhile, is a tedious academic analysis and repetition of this argument that you will likely find unclear and disagree with entirely. If you are looking for something to inspire morality and good lawyerly conduct, I advise you to read Snicket’s primary account and avoid witnessing the second-hand summary that constitutes this paper. Tragically, Snicket’s valuable work has not only been reduced here to an uninteresting academic presentation, but elsewhere has been distressingly compressed into a televised adaptation. ‘Televised adaptation’ is a phrase which here means ‘a sequence of audio visual, small screen presentations released on Netflix between 2015 and 2018, that ironically present Snicket’s model of virtue from diligent study for a couch-ridden audience, relying upon an indicative aesthetics of bookish study and scholarship rather than their actual undertaking’. This irony is sadly repeated in the current paper, with its predictable engagement with both the televised adaptation and the scholarly story being used to indicate the petrified pedagogy of contemporary legal higher education, which—under the auspices of markets and league tables—relies upon an indicative aesthetics of bookish study and scholarship rather than their actual undertaking.

Thomas Giddens is a critical, comics, and cultural legal scholar with particular interests in aesthetics, visuality, and epistemology. His most recent book is ‘On Comics and Legal Aesthetics’ (Routledge 2018). He is the founding chair of the Graphic Justice Research Alliance.

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