The stage

‘The court presented a very imposing spectacle’

in Men on trial
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The architecture of the courtroom placed boundaries on, and provided opportunities for, the production of ‘the law’. This chapter explores the physical environment of the courtroom, looking first at the Four Courts in Dublin, then at the provincial courts. It explores how architecture situated particular legal actors in place, impacting on their capacity to participate or to hold authority, as well as the symbolic meaning of the court building as a site of power in Irish society. It then explores examples of how men and women attempted to disrupt these constraints through disorderly and creative uses of courtroom space, and the important role of the gallery in setting the ‘emotional tone’ of the production of justice. It highlights the courtroom as a site where law, identity and nation were inscribed and contested.

Men on trial

Performing embodiment, emotion and identity in Ireland, 1800-45

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