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Law and the Humanities Research Interest Group

The Law and Humanities Research Interest Group, founded in 2018, encourages, promotes, and produces research in law and the humanities with a focus on the cross-disciplinary fields of legal history, law and literature, law and film, law related art-visual imagery and legal architecture.  

The group is actively welcoming members from other faculties who would be interested in exploring a legal dimension in their work.

Group convenors: Helen Rutherford and James Gray

Conferences and Events

Conferences held by this group include:

Seminar for the Northumbria Institute of Humanities by Helen Rutherford and Dr Clare Sandford Couch (Visiting lecturer Newcastle University). Picturing early nineteenth century courtroom actors: Joseph Bouet’s images of judges, lawyers and felons at Durham Criminal Court (c.1825-1856) (28 October 2021)

‘Combination and Confederacy’: Radical Protest and Chartism on Tyneside, 1819–1839. Neil Harrison, Senior Lecturer in Law (Northumbria University) (23 March 2021). On 25 July 1839, the Mayor of Newcastle, John Fife, issued a warning to ‘certain Persons calling themselves Members, and acting as Members, of a Society or Societies of an illegal Character’. He declared that all such persons are ‘Guilty of a COMBINATION and CONFEDERACY’. He warned that they would suffer severe fines or a possible prison sentence of up to three months.

In this reading group/seminar we examined Newcastle’s response to the 1819 Peterloo massacre and Chartism on Tyneside in the 1830s. We focused on the summer of 1839, and in particular two incidents in July in Newcastle which alarmed the local law enforcers. In conjunction with the military, they took steps which deterred most workers from answering the call for a general strike in August 1839. These events in the North East present a striking illustration of how masses of people were swept up in the turbulence of early Chartism, and how rapidly Chartist strength dissipated on Tyneside.

We examined a range of texts that provide an historical record of radical protest and Chartist activity in Newcastle upon Tyne. These include banners, extracts from newspapers such as the Morning Post, Newcastle Courant and Northern Liberator, and examples of Chartist poetry. We focused upon the intersections between radical politics and print culture, and considered how Chartist activity in Newcastle became transformed into a rhetorical weapon by its supporters and critics alike.

Held jointly with the University of Lodz – English Law and Colonial Connections: Histories, Parallels, and Influences (26–27 January 2021) 

Frankenstein: A Multidisciplinary Conference (14 June 2018, Northumbria University)

A Civilising Moment? Reflecting on 150 years since the abolition of Public Execution (6 June 2018, Literary and Philosophical Society Newcastle upon Tyne)  

Recent Publications

Helen Rutherford and Clare Sandford- Couch ‘George Vass: the making and un-making of a criminal monster’., Low, Patrick Rutherford, Helen Sandford- Couch, Clare (editors). Execution Culture in Nineteenth Century Britain: From Public Spectacle to Hidden Ritual. Routledge 2021

Cerian Griffiths ‘The honest cheat: a timely history of cheating and fraud following Ivey v Genting Casinos (UK) Ltd t/a Crockfords [2017] UKSC 67’ Legal Studies 2020, Volume 40, Issue 2 

Marion Oswald ‘Technologies in the twilight zone: early lie detectors, machine learning and reformist legal realism’ International Review of Law, Computers & Technology 2020, Volume 34

Helen Rutherford and Clare Sandford- Couch 'All that they had heard, all that they had read, all that they had seen’: Questions of Fairness and Justice in the Trial of George Vass’, in Nash D and Kilday AM. Fair and Unfair Trials in the British Isles. Bloomsbury Academic 2020  

James Gray ‘J G Ballard and the phenomenology of the absence of law’ Law and Humanities 2019

Helen Rutherford ‘Unity or disunity? The trials of a Jury in R v John William Anderson: Newcastle Winter Assizes 1875’. and Gregory, James and Grey, Daniel J.R. (editors). Union and Disunion in the Nineteenth Century. Routledge Studies in Modern History 2019 

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