Why are civil authorities in so-called liberal democracies affronted by public nudity and the Islamic full-face ‘veil’? Why are law and civil order so closely associated with robes, gowns, suits, wigs and uniforms? Why is law so concerned with the ‘evident’ and the need for justice to be ‘seen’ to be done? Why do we dress and obey dress codes at all? In this, the first ever study devoted to the many deep cultural connections between dress and law, the author addresses these questions and more. His responses flow from the radical thesis that ‘law is dress and dress is law’. Engaging with sources from The Epic of Gilgamesh to Shakespeare, Carlyle, Dickens and Damien Hirst, Professor Watt draws a revealing history of dress and civil order and offers challenging conclusions about the nature of truth and the potential for individuals to fit within the forms of civil life.
Advance review: “In a finely fluent and eruditely entertaining fashion, Dress, Law and Naked Truth provides a radical revival of the philosophy of clothes for common lawyers. Watt's sartorial jurisprudence draws upon the rich history and homology of costume and custom, livery and law, body art and habeas corpus, to show that the social contract could never be nudum pactum because habit is of the essence of law.” – Professor Peter Goodrich, Professor of Law and Director of Law and Humanities, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University, New York.
Professor Watt will deliver a lunch-time lecture based on the book at Duke Law School on Thursday, September 12, 2013 12:15pm (Law School 3043).