Narratives of Force: The Presence of the Writer in International Legal Scholarship

Lianne J.M. Boer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In this article I use the notion of ‘plot’ to uncover where in their texts international legal scholars are ‘present’, directing readers toward a particular conclusion about the meaning of law. I use Peter Brooks’ Reading for the Plot, in which he understands plot as ‘the design and intention of narrative, what shapes a story and gives it a certain direction or intent of meaning’ (p. xi). In short, Brooks is concerned with plot as the movement caused by the order in which events are presented, making sure the reader continues reading. Drawing on the debate on cyberattacks and international law, my aim is to show where in these scholarly texts plot decisions are made by its writers and how these affect the conclusions drawn by them about the meaning of law. In order to show what I mean by the ‘presence of the writer’ I start with an analysis of metadiscourse: those elements of a text by means of which writers explicitly ‘manifest’ (Hyland) themselves, such as ‘in this section I will argue’. The discussion of metatext will hopefully then help to explain what I mean by plot as similar—though perhaps less obvious—proof of the writer’s presence. Overall, my aim is to show where restrictions on our reading experience—the boundaries of what is and is not law—are imposed by the writer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalNetherlands International Law Review
Issue number1
Early online date24 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


  • Cyberattacks
  • International legal scholarship
  • Metadiscourse
  • Plot
  • Use of force


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