A Series of Unfortunate Events or the Common Law

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events mirrors the scholarly praxis of the common law, encoding a doctrine of virtue from diligent study. This doctrine promotes critical literacy as a means of achieving justice, linking with the textual adjudication of state power found in the archive and practice of the common law. The doctrine also requires at the same time that this literacy be inhabited by its readers. In its translation to a Netflix series, this doctrine is misinterpreted: the TV series does not inculcate the cinematic or televisual literacy required by its form, but presents an appearance of bookish study and scholarly endeavour in lieu of its actual undertaking. Within a broader context of the marketisation of higher education—including legal education—in which space for the undertaking of scholarly endeavour is increasingly compressed, the misinterpretation of such a valuable doctrine should not pass without concern.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalLaw and Literature
Early online date25 Feb 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Feb 2020


  • text
  • praxis
  • common law
  • critical legal education
  • marketisation of higher education

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