Dignitas is a book concerned with the legal interpretation of dignity in selected South African court cases. The unaltered wording of defamation cases – specifically those cases where one party alleges a diminishment of his/her dignity due to an exceptionally insulting or derogatory utterance of another – are realigned in various forms that suggest the possibility of alternative interpretation. The Afrikaans phrases that caused the matter to proceed to trial are presented in poem form, while the facts of the cases build, page by page (in English), in shapes that culminate in a complete human form announcing the decision of the judge. The allegations originate from circumstances ranging from domestic disputes (such a young man walking in on his father in bed with a woman other than his mother) to an assassin confessing the political murders sanctioned by the Apartheid government and implicating the persons who gave the orders and supplied the poisons.
Reynard Hulme studied law at Stellenbosch University (BA LLB) and the University of Cape Town (LLM). Since completing his Masters degree in 2010, he taught legal writing at the Stellenbosch University Law Faculty and worked as a freelance legal researcher until beginning his fellowship at Akademie Schloss Solitude in January 2013. During his fellowship he completed a book of poems (Dignitas) constituted of the unaltered text of selected South African court cases concerned with the legal interpretation of dignity in the context of defamation. The book is published by Edition Solitude and available in South Africa at Protea Boekhuis.