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PossessedHypnotic Crimes, Corporate Fiction, and the Invention of Cinema$
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Stefan Andriopoulos

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780226020549

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226020570.001.0001

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Invisible Corporate Bodies

Invisible Corporate Bodies

(p.42) II Invisible Corporate Bodies

Stefan Andriopoulos

University of Chicago Press

This chapter analyzes the late nineteenth-century juridical debate about the demonic power of invisible corporate bodies. The strain of continental legal theory based on a modernization of Roman law expressly relied on fictional modes of representation, thereby compensating for the “theoretical deficiency” of juridical discourse in conceptualizing legal persons. But a merely “fictional person” was not considered capable of committing crimes. In diametrical contrast, other legal theorists such as von Gierke and von Liszt regarded the corporation as an invisible yet real organism that could compel its possessed members to commit criminal acts. This connection between theories of corporate agency and hypnotism was not, however, one of monocausal determination. Instead, the legal representations of intangible corporate organisms participated in a discursive network of the fantastic that also included contemporary literary texts such as Guy de Maupassant's Le Horla and Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Juridical invocations of invisible corporate bodies and their seemingly preternatural demonic power thus testified to a precarious proximity of legal theory and horror fiction.

Keywords:   demonic power, legal theory, fictional person, corporation, corporate agency, hypnotism, horror fiction

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