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NUJS Kolkata offers Harry Potter and law degree course (but only for real Potterheads) • Prof explains, issues open invitation [UPDATE-1]

One of the many court battles in Harry Potter (though Dumbledore generally made for an awful advocate)One of the many court battles in Harry Potter (though Dumbledore generally made for an awful advocate)

NUJS Kolkata is offering a 45-hour degree course for up to a total of 40 fourth- and fifth-year law students about the law and judicial system in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter universe.

The course will start this upcoming winter term, held by assistant professor (and 2010 NUJS alum) Shouvik Kr Guha, who specialises in competition , banking and finance, corporate, international trade and intellectual property law (besides magical laws).

The course is called “An Interface between Fantasy Fiction Literature and Law: Special Focus on Rowling’s Potterverse”.

Although career opportunities with the Ministry of Magic’s Department of Magical Law Enforcement may be slim these days, one doesn’t need to be Professor Trelawney to foresee the course will be more popular than even the Yule Ball.

However, stiff entry requirements means ignorant Muggles should not apply: all students are “expected [to] have already read all the books at least twice, if not more” (though the Warner Brothers movies are apparently optional).

While the truest of Potterheads may want to read the full 8-page PDF course outline rife with Potter references below (or perhaps transfer to NUJS immediately), the more Squib-like may be satisfied by perusing some of the topics that will be covered in the course, such as:

  • Legal Traditions and Institutions in Potterverse (including role of law and rule of law in a magical society, moral choice and liberty in Potterverse and the role of bureaucracy in the Ministry of Magic)

• Crimes and Punishments in Potterverse (including Unforgivable Curses, Wizengamot Trials, Innocence of Sirius Black and Persecution of Tom Riddle)

  • Morality, Social Values, Identity and Class Rights in Potterverse (including (human?) dignity and enslavement of House Elves, marginalization of Werewolves, Giants, Centaurs and Merpeople, Mudbloods and Squibs, militant literacy and misuse of texts)

• The Potterverse Economy (including Gringotts, magic of money and economic growth and entrepreneurship)

• Politics in Potterverse (including bases of authority, terror and counterterror, resistance, intelligence and secret societies)

• Contracts and Agency in Potterverse (including Unbreakable Vows, Agents of Good or Servants of Evil, express will and loyalty, Snape and the Order of Phoenix, Dumbledore’s Man through and through)

• Family in Potterverse (including blood relationship, familial ties, testamentary law)

• Miscellaneous (including Quidditch and sports law, religion and destiny, Rowling’s legal battles and reflections, philosophical significance of Potterverse characters, technological anarchism & the hi-tech, low-tech wizarding world, archetypes and stereotypes, from ‘Mars is Bright Tonight’ to Horcruxes in Faerie Land and ‘Just behind the Veil’: Influences of Dante, Edmund Spenser and George MacDonald on Potterverse)

There won’t be any OWLs, but students will have to pass an end-of-semester exam, a written essay assignment on a topic selected by them, as well as a 15-minute presentation of the essay (“or in the alternative, students can perform magic tricks for 15 minutes and no, disappearance does not count”, according to the course outline).

Unsurprisingly this is not the first time the juggernaut Harry Potter franchise has faced academic attention, even in the legal field, with the course outline listing 17 Potter-related academic papers as references (a 2005 paper from the US called Harry Potter and the Law is available on SSRN, for instance, and there are several other ones available online along similar lines).

And in 2012, JGLS Sonepat assistant professor Danish Sheikh had delivered a guest lecture entitled “Hogwarts School of Legal Education: What Harry Potter can teach us about the Law”.

Update 17 October 2018, 15:45: We have reached out to Guha for comment about why he started the course, and he wrote:

This elective course is primarily meant to be an experiment more than anything else. I am sure a whole lot of people would think that there are several courses NUJS should rather offer to its students, especially courses relating to financial laws that would make their lives easier in law firms or other jobs later.

I completely agree with them about there being a huge dearth of capable and qualified people to offer such courses at NUJS and probably all other National Law Universities today. I have tried to address that in whatever small way I can over the past five years, by offering courses like Project Finance, Banking Law, International Investment Law, Insurance Law, Antitrust, Technology & Innovation etc. That is one of the main reasons I myself have returned to my alma mater, to help in whatever way I can. I am currently teaching Corporate Law I every alternate semester. How much help these courses have been are really for the students to decide, especially after they graduate.

However, I also believe that a teacher should always push the boundaries, instead of growing too comfortable or complacent. As should every student. This course is partly meant to do exactly that. Hopefully, it should make students think a little and be creative in the application of the legal principle that they know or will learn, to literary scenarios they are personally fond of and interested in.

I could have used multiple fictional universes for that, but I am preferring to start small. If we manage to come up with sufficient quality original literature in the form of student essays, we can even perhaps consider publishing a volume like Thomas Jefferson School of Law has done in the past, but let us not get ahead of ourselves at this stage. The course seems to have got way too much attention before it can even begin, something I would have liked to avoid! I don’t even know how many people if any would sign up for the course, because contrary to what an outsider may think about the course, I do not have a reputation for giving away ‘easy grades’ in any course that I offer.

I would actually be offering Project Finance as another elective course during this very semester, though to a different batch. It should prove to be a challenging exercise, given how antipodal the courses may appear and the different mindsets that teaching those would require, but hopefully I can live up to that challenge.

Finally, to every person who believes that we should offer more industry-oriented courses, please understand that I am fully on your side and would love to accept any kind of contribution from your end, in the form of course ideas, feedback, suggestions, and most of all, you all going back to your respective alma maters whenever time permits and help out with the courses.

This is an open and standing invitation for alumni including non-NUJS alumni.

I know that there are multiple administrative challenges, but we cannot really give up in the face of those, can we? To those who think that law schools should offer this kind of course too, to encourage diversity in thought process and the like among students, thank you for your vote of confidence in the course. I hope I would be able to live up to such confidence as a teacher too, and would of course love to receive any kind of feedback on how to make it better. In short, all help is welcome, from supporters and critics alike. We are all in this together, not against each other.

NUJS Harry Potter and law course (PDF)

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Like +43 Object -40 Clowns 17 Oct 18, 00:29  controversial
This college is filled with clowns
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1.1
Like +14 Object -3 Dumbledore 17 Oct 18, 00:42  interesting
Muggles!
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Like +19 Object -2 Guest 17 Oct 18, 09:19  interesting  top rated
Why so Sirius?
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Like +4 Object -0 Guest 17 Oct 18, 15:42
"These Romans(Britons/Spaniards/ Egyptians etc.) are crazy!" - Anybody reminded of that by Clowns' comment?
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Like +32 Object -24 Guest1 17 Oct 18, 01:11  interesting  controversial
On one hand never-ending incidents of vandalism, sexual harassment, assault, drugs and suicide. On the other end courses on harry potter (I am assuming this is part of the five year course). Is there anything right happening in NUJS?
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Like +19 Object -19 Guest 17 Oct 18, 09:24  controversial
@Guest1: It's a good thing then that we don't require your approval for anything, isn't it? Just because you have forgotten how to enjoy yourself and only get your kicks out of dissing in the Comments section of Legally India other people's good efforts in your sad life, it doesn't mean everybody else will have to. Just to let you know, the idea of this course has been enthusiastically received by law school students across the country and many of them are actually requesting their admin to offer similar courses. I know it's been a long time since you have forgotten how not to be a douche, but it's never too late to (re)learn.
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Like +18 Object -12 Janaab 17 Oct 18, 10:30  interesting  controversial
Are people learning anything useful from these courses? The popularity of these courses is not a criteria of usefulness...today, we suffer from a surfeit of freshers who have to be trained by law firms for the job...I am also an alumnus of NUJS and while I do not think it is all bad at NUJS, the course structure in NUJS and the kind of electives offered there are genuinely worthless in developing career skills.
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Like +20 Object -3 Guest 17 Oct 18, 11:09  interesting  top rated
If you are from NUJS, then pray tell me which courses you'd got there that became so useful for you during your law firm career that are not being offered any more? If NLUs aren't training students for the law firms, then what exactly have the firms/associates done to change that? Talked to their alma maters? Tried to talk to subject teachers to change course structures? Offered courses themselves in their spare time? Instead, all one see is crab like mentality like this. How would you even know what students learn from the course before it has even started yet? And since you are recruiting all these surfeit of freshers every year regardless of their knowledge, then why do you think they will try to do anything differently? Moreover, why do you think it has to be either/or? Not every student even wants to join law firms anymore. University should cater to people having different interests and not create uniform drones. If you think enough corporate law subjects aren't being offered at your alma mater (which is true), then this is not the place to grouse about it. This course isn't a replacement for those. People having interest and capability in financial laws would all flock to firms for the money and then keep grumbling why universities don't teach those subjects. Put your money where your mouth is and come rejoin academia and try to make a difference yourself, why don't you?
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Like +10 Object -4 Guest 17 Oct 18, 11:34  interesting
Law schools, like any school, are about learning. This learning may target a whole of possibilities. They aren't shops to tailor the students to the needs to the law firms. Therefore, law firms have to train new recruits for their specific interests. Always has been that way, always will be, and frankly it should be that way.

This course will teach those interested to see questions of law, legal system and morality etc. in fiction and fiction they love. This course will help them understand the centrality of these ideas not just to our society but to all societies. A worthwhile endeavour.

I am not a clerk at a law firm. I teach at a law school. I have vision that janaab lacks.
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Like +14 Object -3 Guest 17 Oct 18, 12:19  interesting
@Janaab: A lot of NLU alumni including those in the industry have already expressed their appreciation for the course too. Not anonymously either. You seem to have a tunnel vision about the usefulness of a course. Any recruiter should be glad to have a graduate capable of independent thought, analysis and application of abstract law to identifiable scenarios. Believe it or not, offbeat courses like these have a much higher chance of imparting that lesson (you must have done a course like that yourself in law school - it's called Jurisprudence). Of course, assuming it is taught that way, I don't know about the guy offering this and can't say anything about that. However, considering my experience with Indian law firms have taught me that they seldom want graduates with those qualities anyway, preferring mindless drones and template copiers instead, maybe there is some truth in what you say about these courses not being suitable for firm life. But then, why would it have to? Neither the teacher nor the institution nor the students owe anything to law firms. You recruit people because you need them, and apparently by your own admission, not even figuring out before whether they know anything or not. Therefore, you bring the change that you seek. By the way, in case you have missed it, this course is also being offered to 5th year students who have mostly been recruited already by top tier firms. Are you afraid they will forget the tremendous wealth of knowledge they exhibited to firms on recruitment date that made those firms hire them? Now that would be a real challenge!
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Like +4 Object -0 Guest 17 Oct 18, 04:18
NUJS Harry Potter Characters:

- Godric Gryffindor: Madhava Menon
- Albus Dumbledore: MP Singh
- Voldemort: P[...]
- Crabbe and Goyle: [...] and [...]
- Dolores Umbridge: A[...]
- Bellatrix Lestrange: L[...]
- Gilderoy Lockhart: B[...]
- Peter Pettigrew: A[...]
- Cornelius Fudge: J[...]
- Draco Malfoy: [...]
- Dobby the House Elf: [...]
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Like +0 Object -0 Noojie 18 Oct 18, 18:28
@Kian Why did you censored the name of these Professors? It's for humorous purpose. It doesn't defame anyone.
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Like +0 Object -0 kianganz 18 Oct 18, 19:12 LI subscriber
Sorry, I appreciated your post, but since many of the HP characters were students, I wasn't sure whether some of these initials were potentially referring to students.

Furthermore, it's not very nice to even call professors Bellatrix LeStrange, Voldemort, etc :)
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Like +2 Object -3 Guest 19 Oct 18, 04:11
It was my post. I a reposting the post with alternative nicks. They are all professors.

- Godric Gryffindor: Madhava Menon
- Albus Dumbledore: MP Singh
- Voldemort: Uh Uh Uh
- Crabbe and Goyle: Two young chelas of Uh Uh Uh, fellow countrymen
- Dolores Umbridge: Lady who overnight got a lot of authority
- Bellatrix Lestrange: Slapgate
- Gilderoy Lockhart: Graduate of elite university who likes telling BS stories. Mediocre guy riding on dad's achievements.
- Peter Pettigrew: Joker who went from crying in his first class to become Mr Bigshot Book Reviewer
- Cornelius Fudge: Lord T'nath
- Draco Malfoy: Another Uh Uh Uh gang member, senior rank
- Dobby the House Elf: Very loyal to Uh Uh Uh
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Like +17 Object -23 Critic 17 Oct 18, 04:22  controversial
aka "The Course for Dopeheads Not Bright Enough To Pass Difficult Electives and Looking for Easy Marks to Inflate CGPA".

Disappointed that LI is giving this publicity instead of useful electives offers by eminent professors at other law schools.
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Like +19 Object -1 Guest 17 Oct 18, 11:20  interesting  top rated
Clearly not being a dopehead has left you with time to post useless comments on LI instead of actually working. Easy marks to inflate CGPA is probably how you graduated from law school to begin with, if you really did.
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Like +17 Object -16 Bill Carson 17 Oct 18, 09:43  controversial
Most of the courses in all law colleges are useless for career in corporate law, so much so that perhaps the company secretarial course provides a better groundwork for a career in corporate law. Gimmicky courses like these are wildly popular among law students with the result that in the firm I work in, a fresher who was among top 20 in her batch arguing with full confidence before the client that capital is an asset item on balance sheet. Found out she had taken courses like law and literature and law and music as optional courses to boost her grades. The NLUs really need to include basic Finance and accounts courses if they are serious towards developing good corporate lawyers.
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Like +14 Object -1 Guest 17 Oct 18, 10:08  interesting  top rated
There are courses like Project Finance, Corporate Finance & M&A and other courses offered at the same university, some even by the same faculty. Students interested in those can certainly opt for those. How's it the university's fault that your firm recruits a fresher looking only at her grades and without testing her conceptual knowledge during internships and interviews? People do not take law and literature courses only to boost their grades, some people are actually interested in them. Why should law schools produce only one form of lawyers? In any case, you are still working for such firms, one would assume successfully, even without learning anything about the job in law school, so learning it on the job can't surely be too hard?
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Like +7 Object -14 Janaab 17 Oct 18, 10:46  controversial
Universities are meant for structured education...learning on the job is unstructured....so, no, having worked both in Indian and foreign law firms, I can safely say there is a great degree of difference in acumen of foreign lawyers (where courses do have finance and accounts component in them )...and I would like to when NUJS had courses like Corporate Finance, Project Finance that you talk of...in my time we had Banking Law (where NI Act was taught), Corporate Law and that was the end of finance related courses
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Like +8 Object -1 Guest 17 Oct 18, 11:42  interesting
Learn the difference between ... and .... Those aren't the same thing. See, this sentence is in itself a hint with the 'and' and the 'Those.'

The law school spoken about above, offering two range of courses, isn't NUJS.

The great degree of difference in acumen could come from a whole range of factors.

- People going to law school in their mid to late twenties, unlike the eighteen year old greenhorns in our country.

- People paying for their own education as adults who have mostly worked in the market and know the value of that hard earned dollar, as opposed to parents paying for an education not many care for while in school.

- People working in the firms caring to give back to their school, in terms of financial assistance that builds the school's ability to engage better people on higher salaries. People working at law firms also chipping in as adjunct faculty offering market relevant courses that can only be taught well with market experience.

Stop telling us how successful you are or how good your times were. If you are either, bloody support your law school in one of the way noted above or find another of your own choice.
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Like +8 Object -0 3rd Year 17 Oct 18, 12:22  interesting
@5.1.1.1 : Actually, the same faculty is also offering Project Finance to us. He has done so in the past too from what I have heard from seniors. Corporate Finance and M&A are also courses offered here now regularly in senior years, though can't speak about the usefulness myself before taking them.
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5.2
Like +24 Object -1 Albus Menon 17 Oct 18, 10:21  interesting  top rated
"Corporate firms, my child, were not what NLUs were built for. It was to create a generation of social engineers with a varied perspective."

Squibs won't understand.
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Like +5 Object -14 Janaab 17 Oct 18, 10:43  controversial
....and social engineering costs so much to learn???? Employment in corporate law firms was definitely one of the reasons for creation of NLUs...but I guess, [...] won't understand?
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Like +26 Object -3 Law and literature 17 Oct 18, 10:20  interesting  top rated
I can't believe people are against this course. 'Law and Literature' is an established field of study and Shouvik is a bright, hard-working chap. This is a path-breaking course by NUJS. Congrats tonthe college and profs! Most colleges are jealous that they have nothing 10/100th as amazing to offer.
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Like +3 Object -8 LPU 17 Oct 18, 10:49
Nobody is against these courses....The idea is that for an all round perspective, one should also have some kind of commerce based courses taught by CS, CAs and MBAs so that graduates have some idea of commerce (which most graduates have none)
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6.1.1
Like +15 Object -0 Guest 17 Oct 18, 11:27  interesting  top rated
How is that relevant in relation to this piece of news? This is just like men's right activists only coming up to talk about how men are persecuted every time a woman opens her mouth to call a man out! Agitate with your alma mater for not offering commercial law subjects, offer them yourself, don't recruit students unless they fulfill your requirement standards. What has been your contribution as someone who's studied law to ensure that such all round education is given, barring making snippy comments on Legally India pages?
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6.1.2
Like +14 Object -0 Guest 17 Oct 18, 11:38  interesting  top rated
@LPU: "Nobody is against these courses"? Did you actually read the comments above? From clowns to dopehead to gimmicky, everything has already been mentioned. By people who haven't taught anything for a day, and never thought of giving back to their alma by going back to teach. Most people in LI comments sections have only contributed anything to the society in their dreams.
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Like +3 Object -0 Maxi 17 Oct 18, 14:18
Erm, 10/100 is 1/10, and you could have said 1/10, no?
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Like +7 Object -11 Janaab 17 Oct 18, 10:26  controversial
And this is what academia has become....attention seeking, unobjective....anything goes, mate!!!
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Like +13 Object -5 Guest 17 Oct 18, 11:18  interesting  controversial
The teacher hasn't sought any attention here. All he did was to circulate the course structure among students that's actually uni requirement but done by few. If students go about spreading it, how is it attention seeking by academia? You keep using the term unobjective. Says who? How exactly would one figure out objectivity from the course structure? And if offering financial law courses is the only criterion for objectivity for you, then you are welcome to your opinion. If law firms want to recruit students having basic conceptual clarity, there's nothing wrong with that. Test and select. If you don't find good people, don't hire! You can't even retain those whom you hire for more than a few years anyway.
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Like +17 Object -1 Guest 17 Oct 18, 11:58  interesting  top rated
It's so much fun reading this comments thread, with so many people venting their cumulative lives' frustration at an itsy-bitsy course that hasn't even started yet, holding it responsible for such mighty feats as the decline of fresher quality in law firms and the overall decline of NLUs in providing an all-round education! I am sure the course teacher would be tickled to know that a small decision on his part can have such a huge impact, adverse or otherwise, on national legal education and future of Indian law firms. So glad to see that the future of our firms rests safe in such good hands! Just one question to those who think that this course is too stupid to be given any kind of attention, why on earth are you still commenting here and giving it further footage? Ignore it, chaps and go about your merry way, simple!
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Like +5 Object -13 High 17 Oct 18, 13:08  controversial
The freely available weed has got into their heads. Wonder why top firms even recruit such people.
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Like +14 Object -5 GLC 17 Oct 18, 14:08  interesting  controversial
Beacuse they are imaginative, have a sense of humour, and can analyse and compare alien (even fictional) jurisdictions, which is a neat skill to have if you are consulting for a transnational corporation? Or would you rather have someone who can just memorise and vomit what's in a guide, not have a single original thought, and thus succeed only on the basis of being yes (wo)men? I truly wish we had the opportunity to do something like this. It's electrifying.

Yes, I am a Potterhead.
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9.1.1
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Like +13 Object -14 Gaoli 17 Oct 18, 14:58  controversial
@Potterhead

Very noble reasoning you have given but comparison can be done only between equals. How can curriculum of Harvard / Oxford (which are top 10 law schools worldwide) be suddenly put into NUJS which is not even top 10 in Beliaghata.

I am not against the course and respect your reasons which are all correct but in the context of NUJS it makes no sense. Neither the faculty nor the students nor the university is right now fit to teach these courses. Before Hogwarts and Dumbledore there should first be a course on Law and Literature.
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9.1.1.1
Like +12 Object -7 Guest 17 Oct 18, 15:25  interesting  controversial
@Gaoli: That's like arguing unless you have a multigym built in your yard, you are forbidden from exercising at all. Ideal scenario is of course there should be hundreds of quality elective papers taught by specialists and offering separate streams of specialisation to every student. But why should that stop people from experimenting with whatever meagre resources they have?
As for your question about the huge difference in the standards of the university compared to Harvard etc., your point betrays such a callous prejudice that it doesn't merit an answer, but probably you have forgotten that the country's top legal recruiters still obviously consider the students of this university worth doing their work. You seem to be one of those who would require a foreign stamp on everything before you can pronounce it fit for your liking. Then people may as well start their basic legal studies at Harvard only, why go to the trouble of having Indian universities teach law at all? Incidentally, how many credits of law and literature courses have you taken that makes you such an expert on the subject?
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Like +8 Object -2 GLC 17 Oct 18, 16:07  interesting
I certainly feel you underestimate the ability of the students to make the most out of this course. I also think it is unnecessary to have a course on law and literature as a precursor. They are not doing a literary analysis, but a legal one. The principles of analysing Harry Potter and deriving a comparative legal framework from it is akin to using religious and social sources in formulating (say) family law. I trust most law students past the first year would be aware of sources of law.

Further, as far as student ability is concerned, I can cite an example from people I know. My former schoolmates with similar marks, background, and interests were accepted by top ivy league schools as well as top national law schools, as undergraduates. Did the former have better opportunities abroad? Indubitably. But they are by no means brighter or more hardworking than their peers who went to NLUs, or to any other college for that matter.

Indeed, with a teacher introducing a course like this, my estimation of the faculty at NUJS has gone up ten-fold, as well.

Also, if you are under the impression that top 10 schools have quality students, I suggest you try to read Chanakya's Chant, written by a Yale alumnus.
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9.1.1.2...
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Like +2 Object -0 Meh! 17 Oct 18, 16:56
I'm waiting for Star Trek to be part of the curriculum. Far more thought-provoking. #Trekkie4Life
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9.1.1.2...
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Like +4 Object -1 kianganz 17 Oct 18, 16:59 LI subscriber
Indeed, as much as we all love Potter, the magical legal system doesn't make that much sense (and let's not get started on how Quidditch is even a game that anyone in their right mind would want to watch).

This, however, should be obligatory viewing for all 1st year sci-fi lawyers :)
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Measure_of_a_Man_(Star_Trek:_The_Next_Generation)
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Like +2 Object -0 Sandeep K. R. 25 Oct 18, 15:55
Dear Kian:

A big time Trekkie, here.
Star Trek and its various progeny have always been a very fertile area for looking law from various angles. Be it, how in TNG, Picard is always focused on maintaining the Prime Directive or how overall the series looks at issues like racism, colonisation - all under the garb of Science Fiction.
For far many nights, Star Trek has kept me awake and made me corelate the realities of our world with the 'situation' being depicted in ST or ST-TNG.
I would love to see how/ when an Indian law school looks at the various issues addressed in the Star Trek universe and makes students to interpret them from our current history (so to speak).

Thank you my man, for bringing Star Trek here.

Regards,
SKR
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Like +1 Object -0 Sandeep K. R. 25 Oct 18, 16:24 Reply Report to LI
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Like +17 Object -3 Alumna 17 Oct 18, 13:12  interesting  top rated
As an NUJS alumna, and someone who has been both mindful of the need to better train students in commercial realities as well as equally encourage critical inter-disciplinary thinking in lawyers, I am extremely happy to see that the alma mater is in the news for th right reasons. To those who would say that NUJS needs more realistic corp and finance electives, my response would be that while that is definitely the case, that is definitely not why we should not be encouraging more courses like this. For too long, this dichotomy between corp law and critical inter-disciplinary thinking has been allowed to exist, contributing to the endemic problem of corp lawyers being unidimensional and unable to appreciate anything remotely beyond the standard transactional perspective which law firm life tends to push one towards. If anything, we definitely need more courses like these which will hopefully bridge that gap, and perhaps even teach us what money and finance in Potterverse might look like. I hope the Professor concerned keeps up the good work and continues to expose young lawyers to the possibility that there are alternate and equally important ways to view law and legal systems, including corp law and finance.
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Like +14 Object -19 Houri 17 Oct 18, 13:31  controversial
While it is not a bad idea per se to teach courses with reference to literary works this particular course seems to be a gimmick. The teacher by his own admission says his competency is competition law and has never before done anything on law and literature but is jumping into Harry Potter!??? Similarly these courses are taught in Oxford/Cambridge where the students opting for them have genuine interest and prior courses on similar field. In NUJS they are drawn by an implied promise of high marks and a practical sense that it will be a timepass easy course (since the teacher himself is not sure). No wonder the course is so "popular".

I seriously doubt this course has any benefit. The need of the hour is to get the basic subjects right (like Consti law, Criminal Law). One can indulge in fanciful courses when NUJS becomes an Oxford and when Souvik Guha is more qualified. Until that time this looks like a rather particular attention-seeking gimmick that deserves to be condemned.
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11.1
Like +13 Object -1 Guest 17 Oct 18, 15:08  interesting  top rated
How exactly would you want a teacher to get more qualified to teach a course like this? In the whole country, is there any LLM specialisation in law and literature? The only criticism could have been if despite more qualified faculty willing and available, this guy might have been chosen over them to offer something like this. Don't think that's the case. Just because the profile of the teacher reveals certain interest on his part, does it mean he can't cultivate more interest areas? By your logic, no person other than litigators of minimum five years of experience or may serving jailtime should teach criminal law. By that logic, more than 90% of the NLUs should shut shop immediately, since alumni like you would prefer to make money and criticise others instead of trying to do something about it. There are so many assumptions that you have made in your comments that one actually wonders about your qualification and quality of education. Who says a university can't offer offbeat courses before it becomes Oxford? Had that been followed, even Oxford would never have been created to begin with. If you are that worried about the lack of criminal law and constitutional law training at NLUs, come back and do something about it, why don't you?
Finally, who cares about your anonymous condemnation? Go and do all the kadhi ninda you like.
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11.2
Like +11 Object -0 Guest 17 Oct 18, 15:29  interesting
The only need of the hour for you seems to be writing inane comments here and billing clients thousands of bucks for these hours. If you think the basic subjects are suffering that much, then go and talk to those who teaches those subjects and do something to improve those. If you consider something fanciful and condemnable, that's your problem. Neither the institution, nor the students, nor the teacher owes you any explanation.
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Like +6 Object -16 Law Firm HR 17 Oct 18, 13:33  controversial
Interviewer: So what courses did you study?

Candidate (Responds with a sense of Glee and excitement:) - Well I attended the Potterhead course. It was groundbreaking.

Interviewer (Rolling eyes): Don't call us. We will call you. And please don't bug me or my partners on LinkedIn or Facebook.
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12.1
Like +9 Object -0 Guest 17 Oct 18, 15:12  interesting
Will it be the same HR who apparently keeps selecting those freshers every year who by law firm people's own admission up above, have no idea about basic legal concepts? Then it may be time for you to change that HR. This one in fact seems to be unprepared to take even that interview, since he obviously hasn't bothered to check the candidate's CV to see what subjects he had opted for. No wonder Indian law firms suffer from such lack of quality overall, with myopic associates likhe you age incompetent HRs like these.
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12.2
Like +5 Object -0 GLC 17 Oct 18, 15:34  interesting
Candidate: Phew! Missed a bullet.
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Like +3 Object -0 GLC 17 Oct 18, 13:54
Please offer this course online. Would love to sign up. No credits required :)
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Like +2 Object -2 GLC 17 Oct 18, 13:59
Am soooooo jealous. Wish our 40 marks internals were based on something like this, rather than copying off Jhabvala. Is anyone at GLC listening?
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Like +11 Object -1 Guest 17 Oct 18, 15:36  interesting
One solution for all the haters of this course who seem to be from law firms: Don't hire students who have opted for it, unless they can prove to you that they also know whatever legal concepts you require them to know. It's as simple as that. Who is forcing you to do otherwise? Considering you have so many issues with people you keep hiring, it's clear that your current recruitment policy and methods suck too. All your current problems couldn't have stemmed from this course, since it's never been offered yet. Stop pretending you actually care about the quality of education that freshers get, since you never do anything positive about it and hence lack the locus. All you care is how much you can exploit them in the name of clients.
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16
Like +13 Object -0 kianganz 17 Oct 18, 15:49 LI subscriber  interesting  top rated
We have updated the story with a comment from the assistant professor whose brainchild this course was, Shouvik Kr Guha. Have also included below:

"This elective course is primarily meant to be an experiment more than anything else. I am sure a whole lot of people would think that there are several courses NUJS should rather offer to its students, especially courses relating to financial laws that would make their lives easier in law firms or other jobs later.

I completely agree with them about there being a huge dearth of capable and qualified people to offer such courses at NUJS and probably all other National Law Universities today. I have tried to address that in whatever small way I can over the past five years, by offering courses like Project Finance, Banking Law, International Investment Law, Insurance Law, Antitrust, Technology & Innovation etc. That is one of the main reasons I myself have returned to my alma mater, to help in whatever way I can. I am currently teaching Corporate Law I every alternate semester. How much help these courses have been are really for the students to decide, especially after they graduate.

However, I also believe that a teacher should always push the boundaries, instead of growing too comfortable or complacent. As should every student. This course is partly meant to do exactly that. Hopefully, it should make students think a little and be creative in the application of the legal principle that they know or will learn, to literary scenarios they are personally fond of and interested in.

I could have used multiple fictional universes for that, but I am preferring to start small. If we manage to come up with sufficient quality original literature in the form of student essays, we can even perhaps consider publishing a volume like Thomas Jefferson School of Law has done in the past, but let us not get ahead of ourselves at this stage. The course seems to have got way too much attention before it can even begin, something I would have liked to avoid! I don't even know how many people if any would sign up for the course, because contrary to what an outsider may think about the course, I do not have a reputation for giving away 'easy grades' in any course that I offer.

I would actually be offering Project Finance as another elective course during this very semester, though to a different batch. It should prove to be a challenging exercise, given how antipodal the courses may appear and the different mindsets that teaching those would require, but hopefully I can live up to that challenge.

Finally, to every person who believes that we should offer more industry-oriented courses, please understand that I am fully on your side and would love to accept any kind of contribution from your end, in the form of course ideas, feedback, suggestions, and most of all, you all going back to your respective alma maters whenever time permits and help out with the courses.

This is an open and standing invitation for alumni including non-NUJS alumni.

I know that there are multiple administrative challenges, but we cannot really give up in the face of those, can we? To those who think that law schools should offer this kind of course too, to encourage diversity in thought process and the like among students, thank you for your vote of confidence in the course. I hope I would be able to live up to such confidence as a teacher too, and would of course love to receive any kind of feedback on how to make it better. In short, all help is welcome, from supporters and critics alike. We are all in this together, not against each other."
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16.1
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Like +8 Object -11 2019 batch SJA 17 Oct 18, 20:38  controversial
Get your facts right. Shouvik sir does not teach competition law. The head of the Centre for Competition Law is Dr Tilottama Raychaudhury mam who also teaches competition law fulltime. Shouvik sir was a Teaching Assistant to her for 2 years but has never taught competition law as an elective.
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16.1.1
Like +12 Object -7 Guest 17 Oct 18, 21:36  interesting  controversial
You can't possibly be from NUJS. There is no 'Centre for Competition Law' here. And he has actually taught competition law to the LLMs all by himself as a compulsory course. I have seen that. Where did Kian write he has actually taught competition law as an elective to LLB students? You did see the course Antitrust, Tech etc. listed there, didn't you? That's actually part of competition law, you moron!
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16.1.2
Like +16 Object -0 Guest 17 Oct 18, 22:05  interesting  top rated
16.1: Narcissa Malfoy spotted!
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17
Like +11 Object -1 Comrade 17 Oct 18, 15:58  interesting
Let a thousand flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thought flourish.

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Like +10 Object -2 Nujs1 17 Oct 18, 16:08  interesting
Would have loved to take this course if I was in law school. Well done shouvik. Legal profession needs some creativity and fresh thinking. Kudos
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Like +10 Object -7 Kuddos 17 Oct 18, 18:00  controversial
What a wonderful thought provoking initiative. Looking forward to the course on laws and rules in the Big Boss house!!
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19.1
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Like +7 Object -5 Shaktimaan 17 Oct 18, 18:37  controversial
Looking forward to the course which explores the influence of Shaktimaan
on Evidentiary Approaches !!
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19.1.1
Like +10 Object -3 Guest 17 Oct 18, 20:02  interesting
You would rather andhera kaayam rahey?
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19.2
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Like +0 Object -1 GLC 17 Oct 18, 19:49
That wouldn't be that bad an idea. The only problem: one would have to sit through it.
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Like +9 Object -5 Pi 18 Oct 18, 01:43  controversial
NUJS students take a total of 50 modules in 5 years. So the potter course is 2% of the total curriculum, does that make a massive difference?

I would argue that the potter course actually allows students to think creatively and encourage problem solving abilities.
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Like +7 Object -7 Courseology 19 Oct 18, 11:14  controversial
It seems law schools have hit upon a fad where they are teaching everything but law. So, now it doesn't require any pedagogical thought for a course to start; just suffix law with anything that comes to your mind and you have a course.
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21.1
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Like +6 Object -7 Guest 19 Oct 18, 14:32  controversial
Yes, just like you suffixing a degree to your name and we having a lawyer, a pedagogical expert and an ass all combined in our midst.
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21.1.1
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Like +0 Object -1 Courseology 25 Oct 18, 20:20
Only if a potty mouth could compensate for the lack of a head !
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21.1.1.1
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Like +0 Object -1 Guest 25 Oct 18, 21:56
Only if anonymous barbs could compensate for the lack of ability or intention to do anything about it.
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Like +1 Object -0 JGLS grad 25 Oct 18, 12:04
Time to catch up, NUJS (and others).
JGLS already did a 4 credit course over 2 years ago- Harry Potter and the Power of Imagination.
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22.1
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Like +0 Object -1 Guest 25 Oct 18, 13:55
Which was also offered by an NUJS alumna, incidentally, just like this one is being offered by an NUJS alumnus.
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Like +2 Object -0 NALSAR 2013-2018 25 Oct 18, 15:20
NALSAR has had 'Law and Literature' as a mandatory course in the 2nd year (4th semester), since its inception. So that would imply that it was first taught in the January-April 2000 semester. Alumni from that time can please correct me if I am wrong. Of course, the quality of the course depends on who is teaching it. The two batches above us had Manav Kapur and we (as well as the batch after us) had Sidharth Chauhan. Both of them are very engaging teachers and most students enjoyed this course in particular. We covered materials ranging from Greek Tragedy to Shakespeare and modern novels dealing with racial prejudice and casteism. There are two other teachers involved with this course now so I cannot comment on how it has been delivered in the last two years. It is great to see similar experiments happening at WBNUJS and I can't understand why anyone should have a problem with an elective on the Harry Potter books.
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24
Like +4 Object -0 Borrowed Name 27 Oct 18, 21:29
Law as an academic discipline is fundamentally concerned with two aspects, the functional and the theoretical.

The functional part is concerned with the law as it is and attempts to provide an understanding of the prevailing law as a set of fundamental and logically demonstrable principles and their interpretation as part of an internally valid, autonomous and self-justifying system. For example, the determination of insider trading with respect to the prevailing law.

The theoretical part on the other hand is concerned with the study of its conceptual framework and attempts to borrow principles from neighbouring fields or the Social Sciences. For example, the demolition of the justifications of racial superiority by way of sociological research brought about a concomitant change in law, resulting in the abolition of slavery.

Thus, any course taught in a law school, in an ideal case, should be with the objective of justifying both or either of the above two parts.
The discussion on the desirability of a Law and Harry Potter course, however quite strangely, has centred around the factual examination of whether courses of similar nature are being offered in other law schools. This is a fundamentally flawed scheme of argumentation, for if one were to extend that logic, no course can ever be discontinued in a law school because such a course may at that point exist in some law school or the other, and similarly, no new course can ever be started because it would not exist in any other law school.

Therefore, the efficacy and as such a course’s need has to be, perforce, judged on the objects it avows to achieve and whether those objects are in line with the objectives of the academic study of Law. Accordingly, academic honesty would demand that professors designing courses place at the outset the objects that are envisaged to be achieved by way of a course, and whether the same are in consonance with the objectives of the academic study of Law.

In line with the above, it would be worthwhile to compare the two ‘Law and…’ courses that have been offered at Indian law Schools, namely, Law and Poverty and Law and Pop Culture.

The Law and Poverty course examines the legislative/legal interventions and their consequence in either entrenching impoverishment or alleviating impoverishment. For example, a study of the promulgation of the Forest Rights Act and the spurt in per capita income in areas where the same was applied; or the debate regarding the incorporation of cultural erosion as a consideration in the compensation for migration in cases involving the Land Acquisition Act. It in that sense, the course addresses two essential considerations, the utility of a law as a tool of social/economic engineering and upon the findings, a necessary theoretical basis for any change or betterment of that law.

Contrary to the above, the Law and Pop Culture course, as per an article on how to design a Law and Pop Culture course available at docs.manupatra.in/newsline/articles/Upload/71871DF4-1CFA-4754-929B-9E4D6A4E6F14.pdf is “one that holds great potential in transforming the law classroom into a more accessible, democratic, and vibrant space.” This well could just be the intent of any course under the sun and not specifically the Law and Pop Culture course.

The sixteen page document goes on to provide the path and sources that can be used to offer the Law and Pop Culture course. Summarised, the paper essentially posits the use of characters and narratives in popular culture to understand the principles of law. The paper ,one must acknowledge, is fairly well written. However, it falls short of convincing you as a field of independent study in a law school.

In principle, there is no problem in understanding concepts through the use of characters or narratives. This is something akin to the use of parables for making kids understand moral principles, which taught to them independently would be difficult for them to grasp. In such a case, the parable is the 'tool' and the principle is what is 'taught'.

However, a course like Law and Pop Culture in effect becomes a 'treasure hunt', where a potpourri of cultural references are placed before the students and they are required to glean or examine legal principles. This is a superfluous exercise as the students are already well acquainted with the legal principles and hence, there is no addition to the students' understanding of law. Also, as Pop Culture is an apparent reflection of how prevailing law is perceived generally (sometimes quite inaccurately), it holds no value for any enrichment of the theoretical foregrounding of law. This is a great burden on the time and money that a student invests by coming to law school.

The Law and Harry Porter course sits in a similar pigeonhole. It may, perhaps, remodelled as ‘Law as a Leitmotif in Harry Porter Novels’ prove to be a paper for a cultural studies or literary review journal, but putting it as a course in law school curriculum is just indulgence at the cost of the students.
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Like +2 Object -5 Rishik 28 Oct 18, 14:36
The NUJS course seems to [...] from the Thomas Jefferson Law school course. [...] such as the following :-

Moral choice
Crime and punishment, persecution of Tom Riddle and unforgivable curses
Enslavement of house elf
Contracts in Pottterverse
Fmily relationships

You can simply open the source article from papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=829344 and do a search.
[...]

[...]
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25.1
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Like +4 Object -2 Guest 28 Oct 18, 16:38
Thomas Jefferson didn't have a course on the subject. The article is a seminar proceeding that has been published. Which itself is included in the mandatory readings, had you bothered to read the course outline. Why on earth can't topics for a course to be taught be taken from existing related work? You need to read up on the definition of plagiarism.
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25.2
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Like +4 Object -2 Guest 28 Oct 18, 16:46
If you think naming the topics to be covered in a course from the research that exists on that subject (and including that source in the list of readings of the course, which has been done), consist of plagiarism, you need to go back to Legal Methods 101 and relearn the meaning of plagiarism. So when you study a module in Constitutional Law called Separation of Powers, does that mean the course outline is plagiarised out of the Constitution? When people having legal education make this sort of argument, the lack of thinking involved in their legal education becomes even more apparent.
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25.3
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Like +3 Object -1 Guest 28 Oct 18, 17:30
Actually, all the topics and sub-topics mentioned in the course outline have been taken from the various references and list of readings provided. The ones you mention also have been discussed in the rest of the readings too, if you actually have gone through those, just like the Jefferson paper that is also part of the mandatory readings. Because you know, that's how topics mentioned in course outlines are supposed to work, teachers aren't supposed to pluck them out of thin air; had they done so, why on earth would those readings have been mandatory if they had no bearing with what would be taught in the course? Although I have heard that in several law schools, the regular practice is to provide study material and references that have no bearing at all with what is taught in classes, maybe you were expecting something like that?
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25.3.1
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Like +3 Object -0 Sher Khan 28 Oct 18, 17:59
Make that 'in every law school'. The study material often turns out to be a huge waste of money and paper apart from certain teachers and papers.
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25.4
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Like +3 Object -1 Guest 28 Oct 18, 18:11
@Rishik: You seem to have confused between a list of topics mentioned in the outline of a course with an article or paper with claimed originality and authorship. That's not how it works. This outline is addressed to a limited group of students, who will actually be made to go through all these topics and literature related to them where these have been explained, including the TJSL paper that is not a course that you spoke of. As one of those students, I completely understand that all these topics are actually existing ones discussed in the readings provided, which would be made available to us when the course starts and we would have to go through. How anybody thinks anything else is beyond me, but then some students jumped the gun by sharing and publishing it like the lost Dead Sea Scrolls or something, just like the media did.
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25.5
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Like +2 Object -0 JGL 28 Oct 18, 18:27
Why only the Jeff Thomas paper? Some of these topics can be found in the books by Barratt, Snyder and Liza Anatol too. All of those have been mentioned in the outline, no? Haven't read the other sources mentioned in the outline, so can't say whether that's the case with those too. Looks like an interesting compilation, TBH.
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Like +1 Object -0 Logos 28 Oct 18, 19:02
Its true that the course tries hard to be cool and theres a lot of gimmickyness but its still commendable that someone like Shouvik put it together. At the same time it is probably going to be one of the few courses at NUJS where classes actually take place (unlike Legal History, Pol. Science, Torts or securities law) and students actually learn something.
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Like +0 Object -1 NALSAR 2013-2018 29 Oct 18, 03:50
Since some readers seem to be interested in Law and Literature, they can download this paper which looks at the portrayal of the emergency period (1975-1977) in novels by Salman Rushdie (Midnight's Children), Shashi Tharoor (The Great Indian Novel) and Rohinton Mistry (A Fine Balance).

'Representations of the Indian Emergency in Popular Fiction', Socio-Legal Review, Vol. 5 (2009).
papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3094213

I would appreciate it if others can share similar work in the Indian context.
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