Tag Archives: jotwell

A little roundup of reading for reading week

I’ve been neglecting the blogging, again in favour of easy but less satisfying tweets.  Here is a small round up of reading material, for reading week, which at Osgoode is… next week. 

First, this (which is from twitter, so sorry for duplication):  17 Essays by Female Writers That Everyone Should Read buff.ly/14OeowT what a treasure trove this is. Incls 1 law prof, Ruthann Robson   (a piece that is already on at least one Canadian law school syllabus that I know of).   The list is very america-centric, but it is still a list of 17 essays you might like.  And of course if you don’t, it’s the inspiration for your own list.  These aren’t particularly, or at all, law, but they are examples of well written and thoughtful non fiction – when does that ever get old?

Second,  Jotwell.  If you are looking for things to read, the Jotwell Equality section (Kim Brooks & I are nominally editors to the set of contributors) gives you one new monthly option – check out the other sections for other reads.  This month, Davina Cooper is recommending Erik Swyngedouw, Interrogating post-democratization: Reclaiming egalitarian political spaces, 30(7) Political Geography 370 (2011).  This isn’t light reading, as you can see from the quote below, but both the review and the article deserve a chance.

Swyngedouw suggests democratic political spaces are active moments in constructing new egalitarian spatialities inside and through existing geographies of the police order. These active moments go beyond demands for inclusion that work to sustain a post-political consensus; they go beyond rituals of resistance which leave the police order intact; and they go beyond acts of violence that generate and legitimate, in turn, the reciprocating violence of the state. “Proper politics,” Swyngedouw suggests, involves practices that challenge the symbolic order of the police; it involves designing space as an egalitarian and libertarian field of disagreement, opening up room for other speech acts; and it involves radically re-organizing what can be heard, seen and known. At the same time, politics may take shape as refusal: “I’d prefer not to” — a strategy Swyngedouw argues that is also an invitation to think again, and to form new egalitarian imaginaries. Fundamentally, Swyngedouw argues we need to rethink equality politically – not as a sociological concept which demands policy responses to inequality but as a presupposed condition of democracy.

Third, some books.

I still haven’t ordered Mariana Valverde’s latest (the review in the Globe wasn’t positive, but made me want to read the book): Everyday life on the street: City governance in an age of diversity (Chicago)

Gender, Religion, and Family Law: Theorizing Conflicts between Women’s Rights and Cultural Traditions Eds Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, Sylvia Neil out of the Brandeis Project on Gender Culture Religion and the Law.   Here is a link to the Table of Contents, which includes papers by two women working at Canadian law schools Ayelet Shachar and Pascale Fournier.  Lisa Fishbayn Joffe is an Osgoode Alum, too. 

Columbia U P (i’m not using links to online booksellers anymore – a bit late, but I’ll be linking to the presses instead and will encourage the effort to find these at a bricks and mortar store or library….) is republishing 1983’s Scotch Verdict: The Real-Life Story That Inspired “The Children’s Hour”  by Lillian Faderman.  Luckily for me, I drive @lawandlit to the subway and chatter at her the whole way – she was the one who let me know that the “new book” i was curious about was about thirty years old.  Ahem. Anyway, 30 years old means “new to many of us”, I shall claim.  New forward, but it’s not clear whether there’s any new material, so probably not. 

In 1810, a Scottish student named Jane Cumming accused her school mistresses, Jane Pirie and Marianne Woods, of having an affair in the presence of their students. Dame Helen Cumming Gordon, the wealthy and powerful grandmother of the accusing student, advised her friends to remove their daughters from the Drumsheugh boarding school. Within days, the institution was deserted and the two women were deprived of their livelihoods.

Award-winning author Lillian Faderman recreates the events surrounding this notorious case, which became the basis for Lillian Hellman’s famous play, The Children’s Hour. Reconstructing the libel suit filed by Pirie and Woods—which resulted in a scotch verdict, or a verdict of inconclusive/not proven—Faderman builds a compelling narrative from court transcripts, judges’ notes, witnesses’ contradictory testimony, and the prejudices of the men presiding over the case. Her fascinating portrait documents the social, economic, and sexual pressures shaping the lives of nineteenth-century women and the issues of class and gender contributing to their marginalization.

Finally, from the Thesis Whisperer  who is also/really Dr. Inger Mewburn of Australia.  She runs a really amazing site with all kinds of fabulous things for grad students, supervisors, academics…but this time it isn’t one of her great tips or tricks, but rather just a post, about academic assholes.  It serves as both self check (am i doing that?) and many other things (helpful cheat sheet for ranting, “oh, that’s what that was about” reminder after faculty talk, warning about what will happen if you don’t become the solution, fun anthropological approach to academic culture).  Worth a read.  She concludes: “I am deeply uncomfortable with the observation that being an asshole can be advantageous for your career” and asks us all to think about what we can do about it.  She’s on twitter here. If you have grad students, or are a grad student, you might want to have a look.

Here are some other little snippets from Twitter  you might have missed.

Ready to read? Other suggestions welcome.   I am off to Kent and Boalt Hall and  long plane rides = time to read.

Suspicious Eyes: The Uneasy Relationship Between Feminism, Male Parenting, and Child Molestation Laws

Katharine Bartlett reviews Camille Gear Rich’s Innocence Interrupted: Reconstructing Fatherhood in the Shadow of Child Molestation Law, 101 Calif. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2013), over at Jotwell: Family Law (click for link to review).

This is an interesting read. Rich argues that while dominance feminists created the laws which generated the problem, liberal feminists have failed to confront the consequences:

I argue that until we fundamentally change our understandings regarding the role fathers should play in intimate care we will suffer negative social,economic and structural effects, stunt the evolution of parenting roles, and prevent the practice of parenting from being a driving force that challenges the evolution of gender itself.

Camille Gear Rich is a Professor at USC Law where one of her research and teaching interests is feminist legal theory.  Among her many publications is Race-ing Motherhood, a response to Unsex Motherhood, available here:


However, when one fully instrumentalizes Rosenblum’s concept of primary parent, one sees how deeply the model of white, middle class motherhood shapes his understanding.  His expectation is that a primary parent either opts out of labor market participation (particularly in the child’s early years) or retains a much smaller role in the world of paid work in order to perform this primary parent role.  Yet as feminists well know, even under a regime that ensures that one does not lose wages during this period, a primary parent suffers certain opportunity costs, as the decision to develop a childcare specialty prevents her from developing other more broadly marketable skills during this period.

The Jotwell Reviewer, Katharine T. Bartlett of Duke, is the co author of the leading gender law casebook in the US and recently published Feminist Legal Scholarship: A History Through the Lens of the California Law Review.

The article and the review help me sort out my own concerns about the implications of dominance feminism’s willingness to engage state regulation, particularly criminal law and punishment, as part of feminist method.  They also further our efforts to illustrate the variation within the category “feminist” and encourage us all to make efforts to define, refine and critique our own feminist commitments.  Are you a dominance feminist? eco-feminist? liberal feminist? radical feminist? one of Rich’s “post-dominance feminists”? …. Leaving “waves” aside for now, this kind of scholarship reflects a maturing field which can critically examine it’s own histories.



The Uniform Sister-wife Act: Ensuring A Fair Share of the “Marital Pie ” – Jotwell: Family Law

Camille Gear Rich reviews Adrienne D. Davis’ new article from the Columbia Law Review.

The Uniform Sister-wife Act: Ensuring A Fair Share of the “Marital Pie ” – Jotwell: Family Law.

Adrienne Davis’s recent article, Regulating Polygamy: Intimacy, Default Rules and Bargaining for Equality, is a must read for family law scholars, marriage equality scholars, as well as anyone interested in understanding the limits of contemporary analogies made between gay marriage and polygamy.

Well, that list definitely includes me.

The Transformation of Pregnancy: Murray on Sanger at Jotwell

Fascinating Jotwell review of Carol Sanger’s article “The Birth of Death”: Stillborn Birth Certificates and the Problem for Law”  by Melissa Murray in Jotwell’s brand new Family Law section (Janet Halley and Melissa Murray, eds), here.

In order to understand the nature of the loss, Sanger explains, one must understand the transformation of pregnancy and childbirth in our culture. Medical technology has “permanently altered our relationship to the fetus.” In particular, obstetric sonography “has made fetuses present” in the lives of their families “in ways that once were possible only after the baby was born.” This process, which Sanger terms “social birth,” now precedes biological birth. And it is the fact of social birth that makes stillbirth—and the standard legal response to it—so confounding to grieving parents. A fetal death certificate seems to many parents of stillborn children “an offensive and bureaucratic response to their circumstances and suffering.” It denies for many the basic fact that there was a pregnancy, labor, and the delivery of an actual baby, rather than a fetus. In short, it is a clinical response that fails to capture the complexity of the parent-child relationship in utero, and in failing to grasp the nature of this relationship, compounds the parents’ grief.


Importantly, Sanger’s critique of the promise and perils of public recognition has implications that extend beyond the narrow context of stillbirth and fetal loss.  For example, scholars of marriage and sexuality have frequently noted the degree to which legal recognition turns on exclusivity—for recognition to mean something, there must be an other that goes unrecognized.

via A Hug From the State: Recognizing Stillbirths – Jotwell: Family Law.

Equality vs. Fairness: Intention & Discrimination (and juries) (and…)

Ruthann Robson reviews Nina Chernoff‘s  Wrong About the Right: How Courts Undermine the Fair Cross-Section Guarantee by Imposing Equal Protection Standards (March 15, 2012).  Hastings Law Journal, Forthcoming (here on SSRN) at Jotwell Equality under the heading Equality vs. Fairness.
Chernoff’s paper is about US Courts wrongly applying US 14th Amendment (Equal Protection) standards to claims under the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of a jury composed of a fair cross section.  The critical difference is that, famously, the 14th Amendment requires intent to discriminate, but (explains Robson):

[t]he Sixth Amendment… guarantees an “impartial jury.”  In common parlance, this is a “jury one one’s peers.”  In constitutional doctrine, it requires that the jury members be “drawn from a fair cross-section of the community.

Chernoff describes a rash of cases in which claims under the 6th amendment have been denied on the basis of lack of intent to discrimination.  She argues this is simply, doctrinally wrong.

Robson uses Chernoff’s exposé to encourage readers (mainly, probably, Americans) to start questioning the intent requirement itself and the many injustices that are placed beyond the reach of American Equal Protection law because of that requirement.

Section 15 jurisprudence (Canadian Charter equality protection) of course, lacks an intent requirement.  Robson reminds us that the US Supreme Court was concerned about an impact rule, saying:

in Washington v. Davis [426 US 229 (1976)] [it] would raise “serious questions about, and perhaps invalidate, a whole range of tax, welfare, public service, regulatory, and licensing statutes that may be more burdensome to the poor and to the average black than to the more affluent white.”

Well.  Maybe.  Somehow we have avoided all those transformational claims here in Canada, despite clear statistical indications that race and gender salient in this country.

On the other issue, the jury issue, some will be aware that former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci has been appointed by the government of Ontario (Terms of Reference of his appointment here) to head an Independent Review of the representation of First Nations people on juries in Ontario.

In 2008, it was first revealed during an inquest that the jury roll in the Kenora district in northern Ontario only contained names from 14 of the 49 Nishnawbe Aski First Nations.

A court-operations supervisor said in an affidavit that only 44 natives were being considered for jury selection in the district even though aboriginals make up a large proportion of the population.

The affidavit said Ottawa had not provided the jury centre with band electoral lists in years.

From:  Ont. calls inquiry into aboriginal participation on juries The Canadian Press
Posted: Aug 11, 2011 8:12 PM ET. Here.