Feminist Jurisprudence (S)


This seminar examines the evolution of feminist jurisprudence (also called feminist legal theory) and its critique of the U.S. legal system and its norms. It takes up various debates within feminist jurisprudence and examines its application to many contemporary issues of law and public policy. The seminar provides an introduction to the various "generations" of feminist legal theory, as well as its relationship to other forms of legal theory. Students will learn about prominent strands of feminist legal theory, including liberal (or sameness), relational (or difference), radical (or dominance), Critical Race (or intersectional) and anti-essentialist, postmodern, and "Third Wave" feminism. We will consider the relationship between feminist jurisprudence and other forms of critical theory, such as Critical Race Theory, Queer Theory, and masculinities theory. The seminar will assess debates within feminist jurisprudence concerning how best to understand gender, the ideals of sex equality and equal citizenship, questions of sameness and difference between women and men, and over whether, in view of differences among women based on class, ethnicity, race, and sexual orientation and in view of other critiques of identity categories, it is desirable or possible to speak about "women" -- or "men" -- as meaningful categories. Topics covered vary, depending on student interest, but will likely include some of the following: legal regulation of sexuality, marriage, reproduction, and family; work/life conflict; employment discrimination (including sexual harassment); political leadership and representation; pornography; poverty and social welfare policy; violence against women; war and military service; international human rights; and the debate over multiculturalism and its impact on sex equality. The format of the seminar is primarily discussion, with some lecturing. The written requirement may be satisfied either by a research paper (which may be used to satisfy the certification requirement) or three shorter papers on assigned questions (which may also be used to satisfy the certification requirement) or a take-home exam. Students will also write several short reaction papers about the readings. OFFERING PATTERN: This class will not be offered in 2016-2017. Students are advised to take this into account when planning their long-term schedule. **A student who fails to attend the initial meeting of a seminar (designated by an (S) in the title), or to obtain permission to be absent from either the instructor or the Registrar, may be administratively dropped from the seminar. Students who are on a wait list for a seminar are required to attend the first seminar meeting to be considered for enrollment.