Sovereignty and the Cinematic Image: Gary Snyder, the Civil Rights Act of 1968, and the Witnessing of Jurisdiction

By Karno, Valerie | ARIEL, January-April 2004 | Go to article overview

Sovereignty and the Cinematic Image: Gary Snyder, the Civil Rights Act of 1968, and the Witnessing of Jurisdiction


Karno, Valerie, ARIEL


Categorizing the purpose and methodology of the interdisciplinary sub-field of "law and literature" with any consistency is a thorny venture. From Jane Baron's early work on the topic, naming humanism, hermeneutics, and narrative, as the three strands around which law and literature studies were performed, to Julie Stone Peters' more recent article revisiting these three "projects" of the law and literature "movement," scholars continue to explore the way disciplinary edifices both respond to each other and resist interactive morphoses. Yet, despite the limits of the cultural studies methodology we have often employed to understand the field of law and literature--a method largely responsible for the prevailing mode of descriptive observation signaled by the way we now begin and litter many of our papers with "the way in which"--studying law and literature alongside one another enables us a glimpse at how discrete textual and discursive forms meet to contribute to our tacit embrace of seemingly fixed and unyielding concepts. Thus, examining legal doctrines alongside literary texts in a sociohistoric context provides us the opportunity to grasp a more coherent, albeit not necessarily uncomplicated look at the ways cultural notions are generated and disseminated within and across localities and nations.

This article will look particularly at three forms of text--literary, legal, and cinematic--to study the way the cultural idea of "sovereignty" has evolved through a mingling of disciplinary narrative images. Examining one particular decade, the 1960s, and one particular anchor, the United States, this essay will examine environmental writer Gary Snyder's 1960s literary work Earth House Hold, the legal text of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, and the cinema of the 1960s pertaining to the Vietnam War, to ponder how conceptions of sovereignty have been developed in the cultural imaginary. As this essay will discuss, when read together these discrete disciplinary forms provide an interpretive collage which illuminates how sovereignty became aestheticized as an interconnected process of constant activity--a dynamic subject to continual transformation rather than static being. This dynamic, continually transforming subject influenced not only the 1960s and the United States, but conceptions of sovereign systems, people, and nations across the globe for decades following.

The 1960s--a decade when national identification was so intimately linked with geographical deployment in and beyond the United States--offer us a snapshot of the ontology and operations of jurisdiction and sovereignty. The numerous permutations and rewritings of legality, counter-culture, and geographic identifications makes this decade ripe for exploring the ways texts unearth the complexities of personal and national sovereignty. Given the preoccupation with determining America's geographic and ideological location--where it was and should be in the late 1960s, as well as how and where to find the idea of America and "its enemies"--it is less than accidental that texts that invoked geography became fundamental parts of counter-cultural production. They participated in an ongoing consideration of individual and state relationships to geographic and ideological American space. Both legal discourse, and literary narratives worked in the late 1960s to reformat American legal subjects' relationships to their land, sense of nation, and racial affiliations domestically and globally. Particularly, Gary Snyder's Earth House Hold and the Civil Rights Act of 1968 use geography to reveal the complexities of personal and national sovereignty, which still haunt us today. There is perhaps no greater American impulse than that of the negotiation of the contradictory channels of sovereignty. From the construction of the classic liberal subject free to exercise his own volition over himself, to the American denial of "personhood" to slaves until the mid 1800s, to the exercising of First Amendment Rights to speak oneself, to the restrictions on speech designed to limit words designed to incite violence, the United States has been grappling with how to balance acknowledging the ideal "sovereign" individual body with the ideal national "sovereign" since its inception. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Sovereignty and the Cinematic Image: Gary Snyder, the Civil Rights Act of 1968, and the Witnessing of Jurisdiction
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.