Edinburgh Research Explorer

Physical Literacy in Legal Education: Understanding Physical Bodily Experiences in the Dance Environment to Inform Thinking Processes within Legal Education

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Arts and the Legal Academy
Subtitle of host publicationBeyond Text in Legal Education
EditorsZenon Bankowski, Maksymilian Del Mar, Paul Maharg
Place of PublicationHampshire
PublisherAshgate Publishing
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781409429128
ISBN (Print)978-1-4094-2911-1
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventBeyond Text in Legal Education (AHRC funded) - Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 7 Nov 20087 Nov 2008

Publication series

NameEmerging Legal Education


WorkshopBeyond Text in Legal Education (AHRC funded)
CountryUnited Kingdom


This paper discusses why engagement with certain aspects of dance as an art form can contribute to the development of the ethical imagination of law students and how the teaching of such elements can be introduced in legal education. It draws on the Aristotelian understanding of practical wisdom, phronesis, and the notion of experiential learning as discussed by Stonehouse, Allison & Carr (2009) as a means to inform judgement. It also investigates Mark Johnson’s (2007) suggestion that meaning-making is fundamentally an aesthetic dimension, generated through physical/bodily experiences. The function of practical reason within the context of dance, as introduced by David Carr (1997) and others, alongside the concept of kinesthetic empathy are discussed to argue how engagement with dance can improve attention, through the development of physical awareness, and a more effective understanding of the relationship between body and space. This paper suggests that movement improvisation in particular is an excellent method to develop law students' 'physical literacy', as this concept was introduced by Margaret Whitehead’s (2007). This is further explained, through using examples of improvisational techniques by dance artists Miranda Tufnell, Julyen Hamilton, and Simone Forti, which are discussed in relation to Mark Johnson's (1987) theory on how image schemata and metaphorical projections function as links between bodily and cognitive structures in human beings.


Beyond Text in Legal Education (AHRC funded)


Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Event: Workshop

ID: 3102912