Frames

by Paul Maharg on 04/11/2006

Wrestling with Krieger’s use of Patel’s cognitive findings, mentioned in the last posting.  Actually quite profound consequences not just for the implementation of PBL in legal education, but for transactional learning as well.  While on that journey, came across ideas & references on frames that I need to set down before I forget them…

The concept of the frame, deriving from the discourse of art and cartography, is used in many disciplines.  See for example G. MacLachlan and I. Reid, Framing and Interpretation, (Melbourne, Melbourne University Press), 1994); Rhetoric of the Frame: Essays on the Boundaries of the Artwork, edited by P. Duro, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1996.  For a useful application of the concept to law, and one directly applicable here, see R. K.L. Collins and D. M. Skover, ‘Paratexts’, Stanford Law Review, 1992, vol 44, 509

Any technique that reproduces reality enframes or shapes reality.  …   Enframing, therefore, is a quality of any mode of representation, and varies according to the selected mode.  Different modes of representation, with their different types of enframing, will set different boundaries … oral, written, print, and paratextual modes of representation enframe reality in radically different ways.  Thus, a shift from one mode of representation to another produces far-reaching consequences for law, which currently is highly dependent on texts of one sort or another.

This concept has a number of similarities with Heidegger’s concept of ‘enframing’ (das Gestell), by which representation of the object world is not just a re-presentation, but a rupturing as well as a capturing.  See M. Heidegger, ‘The Age of the World Picture’ in The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays, translated by W. Lovitt New York, Harper, 1977), pp. 19-20.  Very often this ‘enframing’ goes unnoticed because it must do so in order to work its effect — ‘[w]hat has produced and manipulated the frame puts everything to work in order to efface the frame effect …’, Jacques Derrida, The Truth in Painting, translated by Geoff Bennington and Ian McLeod (University of Chicago Press, 1987), p.73.  There are points of similarity here between Derrida’s concept of the frame, and Jackson’s exploration of the ways in which the pragmatics of courtroom discourse operate at deep levels within court narratives; and of course the same is true of the pragmatics of legal educational praxis (B. Jackson, ‘Towards an Interdisciplinary Model of Legal Communication’, in B. Jackson, editor, Legal Semiotics and the Sociology of Law, Oñati, Spain, Proceedings of the Oñati Institute (Spain), vol 16, 1994, pp. 97-111; B. Jackson, ‘Thematization and the Narrative Typifications of the Law’, in Law as Communication, D. Nelkin, editor, Aldershot, Dartmouth, 1996). 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Annerose June 5, 2007 at 21:28

These comments have been invaluable to me as is this whole site. I thank you for your comment.

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