Judy Cornett, Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Tennessee College of Law, recently joined other law school professors in a literary analysis of novelist Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, the highly anticipated sequel to the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1960 novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, for The National Law Journal.
The piece focuses primarily on analyzing protagonist Jean Louise “Scout” Finch’s father, Atticus Finch, whose portrayal in Watchman generated controversy as it deviated considerably from the “unimpeachable lawyer and civil rights champion,” that generations of audiences had come to respect and love in Mockingbird.
Unlike some other reviewers, Cornett “praises Watchman for its nuanced portrayal of Finch and for its writing and themes. She appreciated Jean Louise’s internal struggle to reconcile her childhood perceptions of Maycomb and her father with her grown-up reality.”
“I found [Watchman] to actually provide some rich discourse that is relevant to some of the issues we talk about today,” Cornett says. “I think it can provide many teachable moments, just as To Kill a Mockingbird has over the years. I had lived in fear of it being substandard, but one thing I’m saying to my colleagues is, ‘Read without fear.’ “