Feminist Jurisprudence (LAW-815-001B)
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Feminist Jurisprudence includes the study of different strands of feminist theory and the themes that have emerged and developed within feminist thought, as well as the application of theory to issues that interest members of class. Through the weekly application of feminist legal theories to experience, the class works together to develop an understanding of what feminist theory is and how it can matter to the understanding of legal thought, legal institutions, and the ways people’s lives interact with the law. We explore the different strands of, themes within, conflicts among, and questions confronted by feminist analyses of law and legal thought. We examine the relationship of law to the experiences of women situated differently in the world; the relationship of sex and gender as reflected in and influenced by law; the relationship of gender to understandings and experiences of sexuality; cultural images of women and men that both shape and are shaped by the law; and institutional and social structures and practices that perpetuate or challenge inequality or subordination. With this analysis, students explore recurring constructed dichotomies that affect women: public/private, agent/victim, motherhood/sexuality, production/reproduction, caregiving/work, etc. Students identify how different strands in feminist legal thought overlap and differ and the ways themes recur and change within those strands. The course also considers the interaction of feminist theories with other critical traditions, including Critical Race Theory, Social Theories of Power, Wealth and Inequality, Disability Theory, Queer Theory, Cultural Studies, and Clinical Theory. The class is participatory and interactive. Students write short essays applying concepts from feminist legal theory to some event/legal item/cultural artifact/etc. These essays are circulated weekly and provide part of the material for class discussion. Students also develop a project and/or paper exploring/analyzing a topic of their choosing from the perspective of feminist legal theory. Students present their ongoing work on their papers/projects to the class with the goal of increasing understanding of how some aspect of feminist theory matters in understanding some aspect of the socio-legal world. Students may take the course for two or three credits, depending upon the scope of the project/paper they undertake. For two credits, the paper should be 8-10 pages. For 3 credits, the paper should be 20-30 pages. The projects will differ similarly depending on the number of credits.
Textbooks and Other Materials
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First Class Readings
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