Truth in the Telling: Procedure, Testimony, and the Work of Improvisation in Legal Narrative

Benjamin Authers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article considers how legal trials participate in the production of culturally valourised narratives of truth. Trial procedures legitimate certain narratives, and certain ways of producing narrative, through procedural constraints that promulgate legal aesthetics and legal rights that articulate these procedures as norms for human behaviour. Law’s forms, then, determine law’s content, with significant connotations for the broader culture. Notable amongst these narrative forms is legal testimony, whose apparently improvised, interrogative creation imbues it with especial qualities as a representation of truth. Spontaneously performed in and effected by the valorised space of the courtroom, testimony reflects the cultural pervasiveness of law’s aesthetics, and underscores how narratives of truth are constituted by, and dependent upon, the privileged forms of their production
Original languageEnglish
Article number1219
Number of pages6
JournalCritical Studies in Improvisation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

'Copyright for articles published in this journal is retained by the authors, with first publication rights granted to the journal. By virtue of their appearance in this open access journal, articles are free to use, with proper attribution, in educational and other non-commercial settings. '


  • Law
  • trials
  • improvisation
  • narrative
  • story
  • rights
  • aesthetics


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