‘What’s Mr Kipling’s Bakewell Tarts got to do with it? Performing Gender as a Judicial Virtue in the Theatre of Justice’
Time: 6:00pm on Thursday 4th December, 2014
Location: D121, St Mary’s University, Twickenham
Speaker: Prof Leslie J Moran, Birkbeck College, University of London
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During the course of the swearing in ceremony for Lady Justice Macur, a box of ‘Mr Kipling’s Bakewell Tarts’ was presented to the Lord Chief Justice. The gesture was accompanied by much laughter. It was an exceptional moment but not the only funny moment that generated laughter in that swearing in event.
The Bakewell Tarts provide a point of departure for an analysis of judicial swearing in speeches. These ceremonies, performed in the ‘theatre of justice’ that is the court of the Lord Chief Justice in the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand in London, are for those appointed to the High Court and Court of Appeal. They are ‘public’ events marking the inauguration of institutional life of the judicial elite. Each performance has common characteristics. The event is dominated by the performance of two speeches. What is the nature and purpose of these performances? How are we to make sense of the presence of laughter, something which is usually said to be out of place in a courtroom, a threat to the legitimacy of judicial authority and confidence in the judiciary? Last but by no means least ‘Mr Kipling’s Bakewell Tarts’ provide an opportunity to examine the gendered nature of the judiciary as an institution. What role did this confectionary play in the gendering of judicial virtues staged through the swearing in ceremony? How are we to make sense of the gendering effects of the laughter in response to the appearance of ‘Mr Kipling’s Bakewell Tarts’?
In answering these questions the lecture engages my previous work on the formation of legitimate judicial authority through the analysis of written texts and visual images. It also takes my work on judicial images in a new direction, providing an opportunity to reflect on what the study of ‘live performances’ adds to our understanding of judicial image making.
About the Speaker
Leslie J Moran is a Professor in the Law School at Birkbeck College, University of London. He has researched and published widely in a variety of areas including sexuality and law, hate crime, and law and culture. He has undertaken pioneering empirical research on judicial diversity and judicial images. He is Principle investigator of an ARHC Network initiative, the Judicial Images Network, building an international network of scholars and practitioners. More information about the project can be found on the Judicial Images website (judicialimages.org).
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