Beresford, Sarah (2009) Judging a book by its cover : the deployment (and) unsettling of familial images on family law textbook covers. Griffith Law Review, 18 (1). pp. 41-55.
An individual's legal identity can be constituted by a multitude of often-complex notions, and is not necessarily of their own construction. Legal discourse has a significant role to play in the construction of an individual's legal identity and can apply to gender identity as much as any other. This construction can occur not just through what is written or said, but also by and through the image(s) of law. The image presented to the viewer is prescriptive in both its nature and operation. This paper deliberately chooses a medium which is often omitted from analysis — the front cover of an undergraduate textbook — and offers a 'reading' of some of the images that are selected to adorn certain text family law textbooks. It argues that the cover can be read as visual rhetoric as powerful and as constitutive of legal identity as the written words within the book. If left unchallenged, law's cultural prejudices are often shielded from critical examination, leaving the operation of 'power' and 'truth' within discourse to continue uncritiqued and unquestioned.
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