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

Valerie Karno
Categorizing the purpose and methodology of the interdisciplinary sub-fi eld of "law and literature" with any consistency is a thorny venture. From Jane Baron's early work on the topic, naming humanism, herme-neutics, 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 edifi ces both respond
more » ... ces 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 fi eld 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 fi xed 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 1960's 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