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‘The Changes that Face Us’: Science Fiction as (Public) Legal Education


Much has been written on how science fiction allows us to interrogate imagined societal changes and potential yet-to-be realised futures. It also allows those who consume such texts to reflect upon their contemporaneous societies This paper refocuses this understanding of science fiction from an original and novel perspective, arguing that science fiction texts perform an educative function and can be considered a form of public legal education. To this end, this paper argues that science fiction performs a jurisprudential function in its treatment and popular presentation of legal issues and themes. Science fiction allows audiences and consumers to conceptualise abstract jurisprudential concepts, whether they are engaged with less interactive media (such as television or film) or experimenting more actively with these concepts via dynamic media (such as video games and tabletop role-playing games). This distinction between less interactive and more interactive media draws upon previous work by Newbery-Jones in 2015 that examined the jurisprudence of video games and the phenomenology of justice. It also focuses on science fiction’s potential to contribute to formal and public legal education. Finally, this paper explains the importance of public legal education in the twenty-first century and highlights science fiction’s critical role in encouraging engagement with jurisprudential themes and legal subject matter within the shifting sociopolitical landscape of the last decade.

Published: 2022-11-14
Pages:137 to 151
Section: Symposium: Jurisprudence of the Future
How to Cite
Newbery-Jones, Craig. 2022. “‘The Changes That Face Us’: Science Fiction As (Public) Legal Education”. Law, Technology and Humans 4 (2):137-51.

Author Biography

University of Exeter Law School
United Kingdom United Kingdom

Dr Craig Newbery-Jones is an Associate Professor in Law at Exeter Law School. Prior to this he was an Associate Professor in Legal Education at the University of Leeds (2018-2022), Associate Head of Law and Lecturer at the University of Plymouth (2013-2018) and Lecturer and Graduate Teaching Assistant at the University of Exeter (2010-2013). He is a graduate of the Universities of Exeter (LLB, PhD), Lancaster (LLM by Research) and Plymouth (PGCAP) and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Craig is an interdisciplinary scholar, my main research interests include Legal Pedagogy, English Legal History, Law in Popular Culture, and Legal Professional Ethics. He has published and delivered papers internationally on subjects related to these interests and sits on the editorial boards of several journals, including Law, Crime and History, as a general editor. Craig is proud to be a founder of and external consultant to the #CHITCHAT (Crime, History, and Institutions: Transdisciplinary Conversations in Heritage, Art and Transmedia) Research Initiative now CHEx (Culture and Heritage Exchange). CHEx is a sandpit for research collaboration, and a forum for the development of tools that encourage public engagement with our research findings and other heritage materials.

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2652-4074