Thomas Giddens

Contact Details

Email: thomas.giddens@stmarys.ac.uk
Telephone: 020 8240 4371

Following his LLB Law (Aberystwyth) and his MSc Criminology with Forensic Psychology (Middlesex), Thom completed his PhD on ‘Comics, Crime, and the Moral Self’ at the University of Exeter in 2012. This thesis focused on Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons's graphic novel Watchmen, and explored issues around how we think about people as responsible beings.

Thom has since published aspects of his work and presented papers at a number of conferences, and is founder of the Graphic Justice Research Alliance, a research initiative aimed at bringing academics, practitioners, artists, and other interested parties from across the globe together, and to promote collaboration and development of work exploring the intersections of comics with the concerns of law and justice.

Teaching and Learning

Thom holds both an LLB (Hons) Law from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth and a PhD in Law from the University of Exeter. He also holds an MSc Criminology with Forensic Psychology from Middlesex University. Thom completed a PGCert in Higher Education in 2014, thereby achieving fellowship status of the HEA.

His primary teaching focus is criminal law and criminal justice, as well as legal theory and culture which brings his research interests into his teaching practice. He also has teaching interests around medical law and ethics.

Current modules taught: Criminal Law (Year 1), Criminal Justice (Year 2), Medical Law and Ethics (Year 3), and Legal Theory and Culture (Year 3).

Research

Thom's work focuses on the intersections and interactions between comics and legal theory. Comics, graphic novels, and manga represent a rich, varied and sophisticated cultural medium. Comics have had a huge impact of many aspects of popular culture, from cinema and books, to television and the internet. They deal with many themes important to law and justice, from criminal justice and morality in superhero narratives, to explorations of all walks of human life in the wide variety of comics beyond this dominant mainstream. The intersection of comics with law and justice is an under-researched field, and Thom’s work aims to promote and develop this rich and important cultural crossover. His ground-breaking edited collection, Graphic Justice: Intersections of Comics and Law, was published by Routledge in 2015.

Thom’s currently major project deepens the concern with comics and legal theory, taking a specifically philosophical and aesthetic turn. Building on previously published work around the aesthetics and metaphysics of the comics form, and its significance for law and legal theory, Thom is expanding and developing the core of his PhD thesis into a monograph that examines the boundaries of the rational and textual nature of legal knowledge. This work will explore the problems of legal knowledge-making through critical engagement with a variety of comics and philosophical sources, demonstrating the profound critical value of the comics medium for legal studies.

Find out more about Thom's research specialisms

Publications

Key Publications

  • Thomas Giddens, ‘Navigating the Looking Glass: Severing the Lawyer’s Head in Arkham Asylum (in press) Griffith Law Review
  • Thomas Giddens, ‘Lex Comica: On Comics and Legal Theory’ in T Giddens (ed), Graphic Justice: Intersections of Comics and Law (London: Routledge, 2015)
  • Thomas Giddens (ed), Graphic Justice: Intersections of Comics and Law (London: Routledge, 2015)
  • Thomas Giddens, ‘Natural Law and Vengeance: Jurisprudence on the Streets of Gotham’ (2015) 28 International Journal for the Semiotics of Law 4, 765-785
  • Thomas Giddens, ‘Comics, Law, and Aesthetics: Towards the use of graphic fiction in legal studies’ (2012) 6 Law and Humanities 1, 85-109

Full List of Publications

Conferences

Organised

  • 2015: Centre for Law and Culture annual conference, 2015 theme: ‘Change’; St Mary’s University, 10-11 September 2015 (international; co-organiser)
  • 2014-2015: Centre for Law and Culture Public Lecture Series on ‘Law and Culture’, St Mary’s University, October 2014 – February 2015
  • 2014: Centre for Law and Culture annual conference, 2014 theme: ‘Visualising Law and Gender’, St Mary’s University, 3-4 September 2014 (international; co-organiser)
  • 2013: ‘Graphic Justice’ one-day symposium, St Mary’s University, 11 September 2013 (international; funded by the Socio-Legal Studies Association)

Presented Papers

  • Thomas Giddens, ‘Thoughts on the Mechanical Self’ (First Meeting of Costumed Visions Network [Wellcome funded], University of Manchester, 16 September 2015)—invited
  • Thomas Giddens, ‘Comics and Legal Aesthetics: Navigating the Limits of Rational Text with Graphic Fiction’ (Images and Imagination in Theorizing about Law, Foundation for Law, Justice and Society, Wolfson College Oxford, 20 May2015)—invited
  • Thomas Giddens, ‘Remember Madness: Severing the lawyer’s head in Arkham Asylum’ (SLSA Annual Conference, Warwick University, 31 March – 2 April 2015)
  • Thomas Giddens, ‘Batman, Crime, Aesthetics: Navigating the unconscious in Arkham Asylum’ (British Society of Criminology Seminar Series, LSE Mannheim Centre, 11 March 2015)—invited
  • Thomas Giddens, ‘Crime, Philosophy and the Streets of Gotham: Idealised and phenomenal (graphic) justice in Batman comics’ (ESRC Visual Criminology Seminar Series at Keele University; Funding Ref: ES/J022381/1, 24 October 2014)—invited
  • Thomas Giddens, ‘Gender Beyond Text: Examining feminist philosophy of self in Japanese manga’ (Centre for Law and Culture Conference, St Mary’s University, 3-4 September 2014)
  • Thomas Giddens, ‘Law and the Machine: Configuring the restless self in The Ghost in the Shell’ (Law and the Visual: Transitions and Transformations, Australia National University, 7-8 July 2014)
  • Thomas Giddens, ‘When is a Human not a Machine? Configuring the restless self in The Ghost in the Shell’ (London Conference in Critical Thought, Goldsmiths University, 27-28 June 2014)
  • Thomas Giddens, ‘Graphic Justice in Batman Comics’ (SLSA Annual Conference, York University, 26-28 March 2013)
  • Thomas Giddens, ‘Criminal Responsibility and the Living Self’ (SLS Annual Conference, Bristol University, 11-14 September 2012)
  • Thomas Giddens, ‘Towards a Metaphysics of Comics’ (Inter-Disciplinary.net’s First Annual Conference on the Graphic Novel, Oxford University, 7-9 September 2012)
  • Thomas Giddens, ‘Law and Graphic Fiction’ (SLSA Annual Conference, UWE, 30 March – 1 April 2010)

External Affiliations

Thom is a Member of the Socio-Legal Studies Association and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.