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date: 18 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

One consequence of international law’s recent historical turn has been to sharpen methodological contrasts between intellectual history and international law. Scholars including Antony Anghie, Anne Orford, Rose Parfitt, and Martti Koskenniemi have taken on board historians’ interest in contingency and context but pointedly relaxed historians’ traditional stricture against presentist instrumentalism. This chapter argues that such a move disrupts a long-standing division of labor between history and international law and ultimately brings international legal method closer to literature and literary scholarship. The chapter therefore details several more or less endemic ways in which literature and literary studies confront challenges of presentism, anachronism, meaning, and time. Using examples from writers as diverse as Anghie, Spinoza, Geoffrey Hill, Emily St. John Mandel, China Miéville, John Hollander, Pascale Casanova, Matthew Nicholson, John Selden, Shakespeare, and Dante, it proposes a “trilateral” discussion among historians, international lawyers, and literary scholars that takes seriously the multipolar disciplinary field in which each of these disciplines makes and sustains relations with each of the others.

Keywords: presentism, anachronism, historicism, history of international law, Hugo Grotius, Anthony Anghie, reception studies, sources of international law, poetry, imperialism

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