McGeorge School of Law

It Was Really An Open Book Final

May 27, 2009

Sophocles' Antigone

Law and Literature class students presented a staged reading of Sophocles' Antigone.

One of the more unusual final exams for a law school course took place late this spring when Law and Literature class students presented a staged reading of Sophocles’ Antigone.

“The fundamental tension between personal morality and legal obligation, between state and community . . . and the varieties of effective advocacy -- these are some of the themes explored in Sophocles’ classic tragedy,” said Distinguished Professor and Scholar Michael Malloy. “The performance, which was open to the entire law school community, was ‘the high point in my entire law school career,’ observed one of the student performers enthusiastically.”

Fifteen students played a role in the “open-book” production that capped off the popular elective course taught for the first time on the McGeorge campus. Malloy has taught the Law and Literature course twice before with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy of the Supreme Court of the United States at the law school’s Summer Program in Salzburg, Austria.

Ten books, ranging in difficulty from Charles Dickens’ Bleak House to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, comprise the Law and Literature course. The students complete one book per week then, led by student leaders, discuss it in a two-hour class.

“Justice Kennedy developed the program, in a way, as a gift to the law school,” Malloy said. “He felt it was important that students confront some of the bigger issues in human society before embarking on their legal careers. It certainly has made an impression on the students who have been able to take the course.”