Category Archives: IFLS Book Club

IFLS Book Club 2017/18

close up of book with open pages The IFLS Book Club is gearing up for another year of reading adventures, and hoping to recruit some new folks to come along for the ride. For those who are intrigued by the book club but unsure of what’s involved, below is a primer in Q & A format.

We will also be having an informal meeting following the IFLS meet & greet (more on that soon) on Wednesday September 13 at Osgoode, Room 3067The IFLS function will start at 4:30pm, and the book club portion will commence at 5:30pm following the general meet & greet. If you are considering joining the book club, this is a great opportunity to find out more about who we are and what we do. We’ll introduce ourselves and talk about directions and possible activities for the book club in the coming year, book selections, scheduling issues, etc. There’s no book assigned for this meeting, to make it as low-pressure as possible. We hope to see you there, and would encourage you to invite others who might be interested.

IFLS Bookclub Primer

The IFLS Bookclub is an Osgoode-based group of feminist legal scholars who meet once a month to discuss a book.

What’s this bookclub all about?
The point of the IFLS Bookclub is to build a community of people to engage in thoughtful, friendly discussion, to connect with other booklovers at Osgoode, and give you a chance (and excuse) to take a break from other pressures.

Sounds great – how can I join?
Email us at iflsbookclub@gmail.com and we’ll be in touch.

I’m not actively engaged in explicitly feminist research, and/or I’m not affiliated with the IFLS – can I still join?
Of course! What our members have in common is an interest in the law, and an engagement with feminist ideas. We have different levels of legal education and experience, and not everyone is engaged in research at all, let alone feminist research. JD students, graduate students, faculty, staff, visiting scholars and anyone else with any kind of Osgoode affiliation is welcome to join.

I’m not a woman – can I still join?
Of course!

I’m not a big reader – can I still join?
Of course! If you’re only going to read one non-work book in a month, why not make it ours? Our discussion doesn’t require a degree in literary criticism, or a firm grounding in anything theoretical or canonical.

We aim to meet once a month during the academic year, and once or twice over the summer. We poll the group to select dates and times that work for as many people as possible.

Where do you meet?
It varies. Sometimes we meet at Osgoode in the IFLS/Nathanson Centre (room 3067). Sometimes we meet downtown at a pub or café (when we met at Famous Last Words they created a Monkey Beach cocktail just for us to celebrate the book we were discussing). Sometimes we meet at a member’s home. Usually we all meet in person, but occasionally a member or guest will join via Skype. We set meeting locations and times after soliciting feedback from the group about what works best for everyone’s schedule.

Will there be snacks?
Yes! And they’re delicious. We take turns bringing them (unless of course we’re meeting at a pub/café, which generally have their own snacks available).

Do you only read ‘feminist’ books?
No. We consider ourselves to be a club of feminists reading books, rather than a club reading feminist books. However, our feminist orientation means that we try to choose books written by female, Indigenous, racialized, LGBTQ, disabled or otherwise marginalized authors. We like to choose books our members might not otherwise have read. Sometimes we’ll make an exception to this general rule – like reading The Stepford Wives and watching the Disney film adaptation for our Halloween special. A list of books we’ve read in the past is attached.

We generally don’t read nonfiction (this is not a club of feminists reading academic books) but may choose a nonfiction book from time to time. We read books from all forms (novels, short stories, graphic novels, poetry) and all genres.

How do you choose which books to read?
In the past, we’ve chosen as a group on a month-to-month basis, but we’ve found that doesn’t always give us enough time to finish reading. For this year, we’ll solicit suggestions, and then set a list for the term, so you can plan your reading.

If you have a suggestion, please send it to iflsbookclub@gmail.com

What if I’m a Bookclub member but I didn’t have time to read the book this month?
No worries – please still come along! Our discussion, while at least nominally focused on our chosen book, is wide-ranging, and you will no doubt have much to contribute even if you didn’t get to finish (or start) the book. We’re not setting homework, and there will be no exam on the book. We do try to select less heavy reads (poetry, graphic novels, etc) during the busiest parts of term so that Bookclub remains a treat and not a burden even in demanding times.

Do I have to come to every meeting?
Of course not! We understand that things come up, and that not every member will be able to make it to every session. However, we encourage members to try to participate throughout the year, and not just for a single session.

What with work/research/study/family/etc there are many demands on my time – why should I join?
Does taking a couple of hours a month to sit with some friends and discuss books, law, current events and anything else you feel like over tea & cookies or wine & cheese sound good? Then please join.

IFLS Book Club – Past Reads

2016-2017 Session

  1. You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine – Alexandra Kleeman
  2. The Stepford Wives – Ira Levine (and the 2004 movie)
  3. North End Love Songs – Katherena Vermette
  4. Tell: Stories of a Girlhood – Soraya Peerbaye
  5. Monkey Beach – Eden Robinson
  6. The Unquiet Dead – Ausma Zehanat Khan
  7. Difficult Women – Roxanne Gay

 2015-2016 Session

  1. Birdie – Tracey Lindberg
  2. Islands of Postcolonial Love – Leanne Simpson
  3. Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories for Social Justice Movements – Adrienne Maree Brown, Walidah Imarisha
  4. Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir – Liz Prince

IFLS Book Club, 2016/17

Last year, the IFLS revived a feminist book club tradition at Osgoode. The group will continue this year, and we would like to invite those interested in taking part for the year to join. All are welcome, regardless of whether your research interests align with the IFLS. We try to meet about once a month to discuss a book, graphic novel, poetry anthology or some other form of the written word, from a feminist perspective. There are usually treats!  If you’re interested or have any questions, please send an email to Dana at danaphillips@osgoode.yorku.ca. Looking forward to seeing faces old and new as the school year starts up again.

IFLS Book Club: Octavia’s Brood

book cover Just when you thought the IFLS Book Club picks couldn’t get any more awesome, for our final gathering of the semester we will be reading Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social Movements, edited by Walidah Imarisha and adrienne maree brown. The book’s website describes it as “an anthology of visionary science fiction and speculative fiction written by organizers and activists.” Pretty excited about this.

Here’s a description from the website:

Whenever we try to envision a world without war, without violence, without prisons, without capitalism, we are engaging in an exercise of speculative fiction. Organizers and activists struggle tirelessly to create and envision another world, or many other worlds, just as science fiction does… so what better venue for organizers to explore their work than through writing original science fiction stories? Co-editors adrienne maree brown and Walidah Imarisha offer us Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements, as a way to uncover the truths buried in the fantastical – and to inject a healthy dose of the fantastical into our search for truth.

The anthology consists of radical science fiction/speculative fiction/fantasy/horror/magical realism short stories written by activist-writers who are actively involved in building movements for social change. They use their experience doing community work as the muse for their fiction. The collection will also include essays about the radical potential of science fiction by people like award-winning science fiction writer Tananarive Due and award-winning journalist and political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Octavia’s Brood (to be released summer 2014) is the first book to explore deeply the connections between radical science fiction, what we call “visionary fiction,” and movements for social change through the vehicle of short stories. We believe that radical science fiction is actually better termed visionary fiction because it pulls from real life experience, inequalities and movement building to create innovative ways of understanding the world around us, paint visions of new worlds that could be, and teach us new ways of interacting with one another. Visionary fiction engages our imaginations and hearts, and guides our hands as organizers.

Many radical minds believe this field was evolved by late science fiction writer Octavia Butler, for whom this collection is named. Butler explored the intersections of identity and imagination – exploring the gray areas of race, class, gender, sexuality, militarism, inequality, oppression, resistance and most importantly, hope.

The book club will be meeting on March 30 at Osgoode. If you’d like to join, please email me at danaphillips@osgoode.yorku.ca for details.  Space is limited, but we will accommodate as many people as we can.   Please also feel free to email to share your thoughts about the book!

 

IFLS Book Club 2016, Volume 1: Birdie by Tracey Lindberg

I am very excited to announce that plans are in the works for a monthly IFLS book club starting in January!  The idea is to read and chat about books related to feminism & law. Pretty simple actually.

Our first meeting will take place on January 20, 4:30-6:30pm in Rm 3067. We’ll be talking about the book Birdie by Tracey Lindberg, and are thrilled to have the author joining us via skype!

To keep things comfy and cozy, space in the book club will be limited, with priority given to those who would like to participate in the group throughout the semester (with further books and dates to be determined by the group). If you are interested, please email me at danaphillips@osgoode.yorku.ca.

Here’s a short description of Birdie from the author’s website:

Birdie

cover of novel
Source: http://www.traceylindberg.ca/

Bernice Meetoos will not be broken.

A big, beautiful Cree woman with a dark secret in her past, Bernice (Birdie) has left her home in northern Alberta to travel to Gibsons, B.C. She is on something of a vision quest, looking for family, for home, for understanding. She is also driven by the leftover teenaged desire to meet Pat John—Jesse from The Beachcombers—because he is, as she says, a working, healthy Indian man. Birdie heads for Molly’s Reach to find answers, but they are not the ones she expected.

With the arrival in Gibsons of her Auntie Val and her cousin Skinny Freda, Birdie begins to draw from her dreams the lessons she was never fully taught in life. Part dream quest and part travelogue, Birdie is a darkly comic and moving first novel about the universal experience of recovering from tragedy, informed by the lore and knowledge of Cree traditions. At heart, it is the story of an extraordinary woman who travels to the deepest part of herself to find the strength to face the past and to build a new life.

About the author (from the same website):

TRACEY LINDBERG

photo of Tracey Lindberg
Tracey Lindberg, Photo by Stacy Swanson

is a citizen of As’in’i’wa’chi Ni’yaw Nation Rocky Mountain Cree and hails from the Kelly Lake Cree Nation community. She is an award-winning academic writer and teaches Indigenous studies and Indigenous law at two universities in Canada. She sings the blues loudly, talks quietly and is next in a long line of argumentative Cree women. This is her first novel.

 

 

 

IFLS Book Club Post #18 [Paul Daly]

Paul DalyThe Round House is an incredibly rich and complex novel, a coming-of-age story told by a young Native American boy whose mother was brutally raped at the intersection between federal, state and reserve lines.

My contribution will only scratch the surface of one of the book’s many facets, one which relates to the construction of identity, one of the novel’s key themes. The narrator’s father is a judge on the reserve. As is the wont of young boys, the narrator imagines his father as a Herculean figure, presiding gravely but intelligently over murder trials and other high-profile events.

Yet when he cracks open his father’s books he is disappointed: life as a judge involves the endless drudgery of petty crime and jurisdictional wrangling. But his father’s response deserves to be quoted at length:

“We are trying to build a solid base here for our sovereignty. We try to press against the boundaries of what we are allowed, walk a step past the edge. Our records will be scrutinized by Congress one day and decisions on whether to enlarge our jurisdiction will be made. Some day. We want the right to prosecute criminals of all races on all lands within our original boundaries. Which is why I try to run a tight courtroom, Joe. What I am doing now is for the future, though it may seem small, or trivial, or boring, to you.”

Administrative decision-makers are also in an unenviable position, viewed with suspicion by many lawyers and judges (though the latter have been somewhat brought to heel by the Supreme Court’s policy of across-the-board deference, nominally at least). They are fighting for recognition in a world in which Lord Hewart’s tirade against the administrative state still has a willing audience, one where the idea that non-lawyers might have something useful to say about the law still provokes wails of discontent.

And there is a lesson. That building legitimacy is a slow process of building a system from the ground up. Hearings are an opportunity for administrative decision-makers to showcase themselves, advertising how they can use informal processes to maximize participation and ensure access to justice in a timely manner. Decisions are an occasion to demonstrate their wisdom and knowledge to an outside world skeptical of their abilities: well-reasoned decisions are not a burden but a vital component of a robust administrative justice system capable of winning over the doubters. And publication of decisions is not a chore to be avoided but a priceless chance to communicate with the wider public. Bit by little bit, every administrative decision-maker is building his or her contribution to the administrative justice edifice.


 

Paul Daly is assistant professor of law at the University of Montreal but better known for his public law commentary on his blog, Administrative Law Matters.

[and his twitter feed, @pauldalyesq]