Richard K. Sherwin

Wallace Stevens Professor of Law
Director, Visual Persuasion Project

Richard K. Sherwin

Curriculum Vitae

Richard K. Sherwin is the Wallace Stevens Professor of Law and Dean for Faculty Scholarship at New York Law School. He is an expert on the multiple connections that link law and culture, focusing in particular on legal storytelling and visual communication. Professor Sherwin gained nationwide attention with his well-received book, When Law Goes Pop: The Vanishing Line between Law and Popular Culture (University of Chicago Press, 2000 [2002]) which explores the two-way street between law and popular culture. His most recent book, Visualizing Law in the Age of the Digital Baroque: Arabesques & Entanglements (Routledge 2011) examines the interpenetration of law and the visual throughout the history of modern culture up through the current era, which he calls the age of the digital baroque. His edited volumes include Law, Culture and Visual Studies [co-edited with Anne Wagner] (Springer 2013), Popular Culture and Law (Ashgate, The International Library of Law and Society, 2006), and the forthcoming volume Law and the History of Modern Culture [co-edited with Danielle Celermajer] (Bloomsbury forthcoming).

Recent chapters and articles include: “What Authorizes the Image? The Visual Economy of Post-Secular Jurisprudence,” chapter in Desmond Manderson, ed., Law and the Visual: Transitions and Transformations, University of Toronto Press (forthcoming 2016); “Too Late for Thinking: The Curious Quest for Emancipatory Potential in Meaningless Affect and Some Jurisprudential Implications,” Law, Culture & the Humanities (2015); “Law in the Flesh: Tracing Legitimation’s Origin to ‘The Act of Killing,’” No Foundations: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Law and Justice No. 11 (June 2014); and “Law as Performance: Presence and Simulation Inside the Theater/Courtroom”] Revue Communications, Paris, no. (2013).

In 2001, Professor Sherwin began teaching Visual Persuasion in the Law, the first course in the nation to teach students about the role, efficacy, and pitfalls of using visual evidence and visual advocacy in contemporary legal practice. Working in the Law School¹s digital media lab, students in this course create short documentary films pertaining to a legal topic or controversy. In 2005, he launched the Visual Persuasion Project website, the first and to date only website dedicated to showcasing ‘best practices’ in the visual litigation field. The Project seeks to promote visual literacy among lawyers, judges, law students, and the lay public by cultivating a better understanding of visual communication practices.

In 2013, Professor Sherwin was awarded the Fulbright Canada Visiting Research Chair in Law and Literature at McGill University under the auspices of McGill Law School and the Institute for the Public Life of Art and Ideas and was in residence during the spring 2014 semester. He received a Humanities Research Centre Fellowship and served most of July 2014 as Visiting Research Fellow at the Research School of Humanities and the Arts, College of Arts and Social Sciences at Australia National University in Canberra, Australia.

A frequent public speaker both in the United States and abroad, Professor Sherwin is a regular commentator for television, radio, and print media on the relationship between law, culture, film, and digital media. His appearances include NBC’s Today Show, Court TV, WNET, National Public Radio, RTE Radio 1 (National Public Radio in Ireland) and CKUT (Montreal, Canada) and Jeremiah Zagar’s highly acclaimed documentary film “Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart” (HBO 2014).


Visualizing Law in the Age of the Digital Baroque: Arabesques & Entanglements (Routledge: 2011)

Law, Culture & Visual Studies [two volumes] (with Anne Wagner) (Springer: 2012).

Popular Culture and Law. (International Library of Law and Society)(Introductory essay at xi-xxii & Law Frames: Historical Truth and Narrative Necessity in a Criminal Case, Chapter 6 at 177-221)(Darthmouth/Ashgate, 2006)(Editor & contributor).

When Law Goes Pop: The Vanishing Line Between Law and Popular Culture (University of Chicago Press, 2000).


“Constitutional Purgatory: Shades and Presences Inside the Courtroom,” chapter in Law and the Image, edited by Daniela Carpi and Klaus Stierstorfer (De Gruyter, Berlin: 2012)

“Law’s Life on the Screen,” chapter in Intersections of Law and Culture, edited by Sara Steinert-Borella and Caroline Wiedmer (Palgrave Macmillan Socio-Legal Studies: 2012)

“Imagining Law as Film: Representation without Reference?” chapter in Introduction to Law and the Humanities, (Austin Sarat, Matthew Anderson, Catherine Frank eds., Cambridge University Press 2010)

“What Screen Do You Have in Mind? Contesting the Visual Context of Law and Film Studies,” chapter in Studies in Law, Politics, and Society (A. Sarat ed., Elsevier 2009)

“Law, Metaphysics, and the New Iconoclasm,” in Law Text Culture volume 11, pp. 70 – 105 (Andrew T. Kenyon and Peter D. Rush ed., 2007)

“Thinking Beyond the Shown,” (co-authored with Neal Feigenson) Law Probability Risk, Volume 6, Number 1-4 (March/December 2007) 295-310 (Oxford University Press)

“Law in the Age of Images,” chapter in James Elkins, ed., Visual Literacy in Action (Routledge 2007)

“Law’s Enchantment: The Cinematic Jurisprudence of Krzystztof Kieslowski,” in Popular Culture and Law (International Library of Essays in Law & Society) (Michael Freeman, ed., Ashgate, March 2005).

“Law in the Age of Images: The Challenge of Visual Literacy,” Chapter in Contemporary Issues in the Semiotics of Law at 231–55 (Hart Publishers, 2005).

“Anti-Oedipus, Lynch: Initiatory Rites and the Ordeal of Justice,” Chapter in Law on the Screen at 95-112 (A. Sarat, L. Douglas & M. Humphrey, eds., Stanford University Press, 2005).

“Law in the Digital Age: The Challenge of Visual Literacy, in Contemporary Issues” in the Semiotics of Law 231-255 (Onati International Series in Law and Society: Hart Publishers, 2005) (with N. Feigenson & C. Spiesel).

“Law in Popular Culture,” Chapter 6 in The Blackwell Companion to Law and Society at 95–112 (A. Sarat, ed., Blackwell Publishing, 2004).

“Framed,” Chapter 4 in Legal Reelism: Movies as Legal Texts at 70–94 (John Denvir, ed., University of Illinois Press, 1996).


Law in the Flesh: Tracing Legitimation’s Origin to ‘The Act of Killing,’ 11 NO FOUNDATIONS: AN INTERDISCIPLINARY JOURNAL OF LAW AND JUSTICE 38-60 (2014) available at .
Performer la Loi. Présences et simulacres, sur scène et au tribunal. (Law as Performance: Presence and Simulation Inside the Theater/Courtroom) 92 COMMUNICATIONS 147-158 (2013) (Paris).

“Sublime Jurisprudence: On the Ethical Education of the Legal Imagination in Our Time,” [Vico Symposium], Chicago-Kent Law Review 83:3 (2008)“A Manifesto for Visual Legal Realism,” Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, volume 40, issue 3 (2007)

“What is Visual Knowledge, and What is it Good for? Potential Ethnographic Lessons from the Field of Legal Practice,” Visual Anthropology, vol. 20: 1–36, (2007)

“Law, Metaphysics, and the New Iconoclasm,” Article based on keynote lecture for Passages: law, aesthetics and politics, 13th International Conference of the Law and Literature Association of Australia at the University of Melbourne Law School, Law/Text/Culture (forthcoming 2007).

“On Being Among Friends: A Response to Eugene Garver’s For the Sake of Argument” (Book Review Symposium), 110 Penn State Law Review 945-953 (2006).

“Law in the Digital Age: How Visual Communication Technologies are Transforming the Practice, Theory, and Teaching of Law,” Lead article in the Boston University Journal of Law, Technology, and Science (2006) (with Neal Feigenson and Christina Spiesel).

“Law’s Beatitude: A Post-Nietzschean Account of Legitimacy” (Symposium: Nietzsche and Legal Theory), 24 Cardozo Law Review 683–704 (2003).

“Celebrity Lawyers and the Cult of Personality,” (Special Issue: Reflecting on the Legal Issues of Our Times. New York Law School Faculty Presentation Day), 46 New York Law School Law Review 517–526 (2002–2003).

“Nomos and Cinema” (Symposium: Law and Popular Culture), 48 UCLA Law Review 1519–1543 (2001).

Foreword (Symposium: Law/Media/Culture: Legal Meaning in the Age of Images), 43 New York Law School Law Review 653–659 (2000).

“The Jurisprudence of Appearances” (Symposium: Law/Media/Culture: Legal Meaning in the Age of Images), 43 New York Law School Law Review 821–842 (2000).

Introduction (Symposium: Picturing Justice: Images of Law and Lawyers in the Visual Media), 30 University of San Francisco Law Review 891–901 (1996).

“Cape Fear: Law’s Inversion and Cathartic Justice” (Symposium: Picturing Justice: Images of Law and Lawyers in the Visual Media), 30 University of San Francisco Law Review 1023–1050 (1996).

“Law and the Myth of the Self in Mass Media Representations,” 8 International Journal for the Semiotics of Law 299–326 (1995).

“Law Frames: Historical Truth and Narrative Necessity in a Criminal Case,” 47 Stanford Law Review 39–84 (1994).

“The Narrative Construction of Legal Reality” (Lawyers as Storytellers & Storytellers as Lawyers: An Interdisciplinary Symposium Exploring the Use of Storytelling in the Practice of Law), 18 Vermont Law Review 681–719 (1994).

Preface (Lawyering Theory Symposium: Thinking Through the Legal Culture), 37 New York Law School Law Review 1–7 (1992).

“Lawyering Theory: An Overview ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Law’” (Lawyering Theory Symposium: Thinking Through the Legal Culture), 37 New York Law School Law Review 9–53 (1992).

“Rhetorical Pluralism and the Discourse Ideal: Countering Division of Employment v. Smith, a Parable of Pagans, Politics, and Majoritarian Rule,” 85 Northwestern University Law Review 388–441 (1991).

“Law, Violence, and Illiberal Belief,” 78 Georgetown Law Journal 1785–1835 (1990).

Dialects and Dominance: A Study of Rhetorical Fields in the Law of Confessions, 136 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 729–849 (1988).

“A Matter of Voice and Plot: Belief and Suspicion in Legal Storytelling,” 87 Michigan Law Review 543–612 (1988).

“Publics, Experts and the Language of Democracy: A Study in the Rhetoric of Law,” (J.S.D. Thesis) (Columbia Law School, 1988).

“Opening Hart’s Concept of Law,” 20 Valparaiso University Law Review 385–411 (1986).


Book Review of William Haltom and Michael McCann’s Distorting the Law: Politics, Media and the Litigation Crisis, 231 New York Law Journal 2 (November 23, 2004).