Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly


Nicholas Short


To some degree, we are all storytellers, and we tell stories for a great variety of purposes: to animate speeches, to justify our conduct, and even to explain our opinions and views. These stories, or narratives, do a lot of work in human communication, and understanding them is essential to understanding the people that use them and the message they are attempting to send.

Because of the prevalence of narratives in everyday life, and their explanatory power, it is perhaps not surprising to find narratives being used even in more staunchly "academic" or "critical" contexts, such as works of history, or Supreme Court opinions. Some may view this connection skeptically: after all, writers of fiction tell stories, but writers of history tell history, and Justices of the Court write arguments and opinions. But narratives can be historical, and even fictional narratives can be ideological and can be argumentative, at least in the sense of being political.