University of Bologna
Via Galliera, 3
40121 Bologna (BO)
Tel.: +39 051 277.205
Fax: +39 051 260.782

About Us

The Italian Society for Law and Literature (ISLL) was founded in June 2008 at the initiative of Enrico Pattaro. Its main purpose is to promote the study of Law and the Humanities, an area comprising not only Law and Literature in a strict sense but also Law and cinema, Law and art, and Law and music.

In 2013, having found an institutional setting for Law and the Humanities, the ISLL decided to adjust its structure and governance and has thus bloomed into a proper network. In this new form, the ISLL will be forging ahead with its activity coordinated by Carla Faralli, and M. Paola Mittica, with help of the original coordinating council and board of advisors.

The ISLL is based at the Interdepartmental Centre for Research in the History, Philosophy, and Sociology of Law and in Computer Science and Law (CIRSFID). The centre was founded in 1986 and has since been drawing on the cross-disciplinary expertise of a range of researchers and professors affiliated with the University of Bologna. This has made it possible for CIRSFID to bring different disciplines together so as to overcome the strict specialization characterizing modern universities, a feature that was nowhere to be found in the beginning, but we are convinced that the great challenges of the contemporary world can successfully be addressed only through an exchange among different disciplines interacting on an equal footing.

Seizing on this conviction, CIRSFID started out early on devoting itself for the most part to the task of fostering the growth of legal informatics, a discipline that in the mid-1980s was still in its infancy in Italy, and in this way a dialogue was begun between lawyers and computer scientists. About the same time when the IT revolution was making its way into our lives, another revolution was taking shape, the one brought about by the increasingly advanced use of sophisticated medical technologies. The researchers at CIRSFID saw the need to tackle these problems, too, and began to specialize in this new research area — bioethics — in conversation with physicians, philosophers, psychologists, and jurists.

These two research areas find their place at CIRSFID against the backdrop of a conception of law as a historical cultural phenomenon, a conception taken over from the teaching of Guido Fassò, one of the two thinkers CIRSFID is named for. Also emerging against this backdrop are the studies in Law and Literature and Law and the Humanities, understood in the broad sense, requiring an interdisciplinary interaction among historians, comparative lawyers, sociologists, literati, and philosophers.

In addition to focusing on the various research topics just outlined, the ISLL has also devoted itself to academic training, in the conviction that Law and Literature offers an educational method serving a useful purpose in a variety of disciplinary areas, for we believe it develops what Martha Nussbaum calls the “narrative imagination,” namely, “the ability to think what it might be like to be in the shoes of a person different from oneself, to be an intelligent reader of that person’s story, and to understand the emotions and wishes and desires that someone so placed might have. The cultivation of sympathy has been a key part of the best modern ideas of democratic education, in both Western and non-Western nations.” (Martha C. Nussbaum, Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 95–96.)

With the aim to facilitate contacts among scholars and to share experiences and discuss ideas within an international framework, the ISLL has set out various activities through its website: publication of essays and reviews (ISLL Papers) and dissemination of news about books (Library), events and etc. (ISLL Events and Announcements, the annual ISLL Newsletter) .

In this spirit, the ISLL arranges a conference every year in Italy or abroad.

These initiatives, among others, significantly contribute to the important growth of Law and the Humanities not only in scholarly circles but also in professional training.