Legal Signs Fascinate: Kevelson’s Research on Semiotics

Springer Verlag (2017)
  Copy   BIBTEX


This engaging book examines the origins and first effects of the concept ‘legal semiotics’, focusing on the inventor of the term, Roberta Kevelson. It highlights the importance of her ideas and works which have contributed to legal theory, legal interpretation and philosophy of language. Kevelson’s work is particularly relevant today, in our world of global electronic communication networks which rely so much on language, signs, signals and shortcuts. Kevelson could not have foreseen the 21st century, yet the story of her work and influence deserves more attention as it is key to our understanding of modern legal discourse and why law fascinates and is accepted in modern society. The authors draw on Kevelson’s hitherto unknown Office Papers and Notes, and a biographical examination points to key influences in her work such as the early feminist movements of the US East Coast, the philosophy of Charles Sanders Peirce and the semiotics of Thomas Sebeok. This forms the basis for a more encompassing research of Kevelson’s position, work and philosophical background, which the authors call for. A quick and enlightening read, this book interests a wide range of readers with an interest in legal history and the fields which Kevelson both drew on and influenced, including lawyers, students and scholars.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 79,826

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library


Appendix B: The Kevelson Bibliography

Roberta Kevelson: Introduction to the Logic of Questions and Answers. Brown Working Papers 1; Brown University, Providence , New York, 1976.

Appendix A: The Roberta Kevelson Papers

The boxes named “Roberta Kevelson Papers” contain the Office Notes and Papers of the late Distinguished Philosophy Professor Roberta Kevelson, Dr. Phil, Professor at Penn State University Berks Campus.

Kevelson’s Semiotics Today

A dynamic transition of language signs appears to be the key issue in the semiotic project. This is, as Kevelson suspected, particularly of essence in law and legal discourse. Semioticians thus determine the relations between meaning and reality so that we think to succeed to articulate ‘how things ... see more

Semiotics Education in Law

Considerations of ‘education’ fascinate in the case of Kevelson for various reasons. They do, however, also make limitations visible. Fascination and limitation go hand in hand, and form in this case a clear profile that initiates a plea to develop further research. This chapter focuses on the natur... see more

Words, Signs and Signifying Concepts

The sign-character of legal expressions, unveiled by semiotic approaches, relates to the main features of the world around individuals and thus constitutes their biography. Major headlines of Kevelson’s biography are presented in this chapter—her early empowering of women’s emancipationist movements... see more

Social Life and Law

Social life is life spoken. Speech acts appear of central importance in studying law, as semiotics underline. Law is multidimensional, lawyers speak everyday language and legal language and the meaning of their words is seldom restricted to one level of significance. Is Law’s discourse a different m... see more

Why’s of Fascination

Modern times show a deeply rooted fascination for signs. Philosophers like Charles Sanders Peirce already registered that change of mind at the edge of the 20th century. He inspired Roberta Kevelson in her design of a method of knowledge seeking and questioning. She applied in that method many ‘How’... see more

Similar books and articles

“A Short Genealogy of Realism”: Peirce, Kevelson and Legal Semiotics. [REVIEW]Geoffrey Sykes - 2008 - International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue Internationale de Sémiotique Juridique 21 (2):103-116.
Signs of Law: The Roberta Kevelson Seminar on Law and Semiotics at Penn State University’s Dickinson School of Law.Jan M. Broekman & William A. Pencak - 2010 - International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue Internationale de Sémiotique Juridique 23 (1):1-1.
Introduction: Lawyers Making Meaning: The Roberta Kevelson Seminar on Law and Semiotics.Jan M. Broekman & William A. Pencak - 2009 - International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue Internationale de Sémiotique Juridique 22 (1):1-10.
Mapping Legal Semiotics.Anne Wagner - 2010 - International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue Internationale de Sémiotique Juridique 23 (1):77-82.
Peirce and Law: Issues in Pragmatism, Legal Realism and Semiotics.Roberta Kevelson - 1993 - Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 29 (2):287-292.
How Can “The Play of Signs and The Signs of Play” Become an Attractive Model for Dealing with Eidetic and Empirical Research?William Gomes - 2017 - In Jamin Pelkey & Geoffrey Ross Owens Pelkey & Owens (ed.), Semiotics 2017: The Play of Musement. Puebla - Mexico: Semiotic Society of America. pp. 1-19.


Added to PP

6 (#1,127,966)

6 months
1 (#479,917)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Jan Maurits Broekman
Pennsylvania State University

Citations of this work

Of Semiotics, the Marginalised and Laws During the Lockdown in India.Manwendra K. Tiwari & Swati Singh Parmar - 2022 - International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue Internationale de Sémiotique Juridique 35 (3):977-1000.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references