Law, Jurisp & Social Thought 260 - Feminist Legal Theory

Feminist Legal Theory

Nica Siegel

TU/TH | 10:00 AM - 11:20 AM

Amherst College

In the twentieth century, American feminist movements made significant strides in securing suffrage, formal equality under the law, reproductive justice, and the possibility of economic independence through paid labor.  And yet, the entry of (some) women into the public sphere has only intensified the urgency of a series of underlying questions: Is it desirable to demand legal transformations in the name of the identity “woman,” and if so, how should we incorporate considerations of gender and queerness, class, race, ability, and nationality? What is the relation between the formal emancipation of some women and intensified forms of domination of other women, for example, in the sphere of care work? What are the histories, logics, and political economies of these relations?  What is the family, what is its relationship to reproduction, and how should its legal attachments, obligations, and relationships be understood from a feminist perspective? How did individual choice become the privileged legal mechanism for feminist forms of freedom and what is the status of choice today? We will aim to develop our understanding of these distinct but deeply linked questions of feminist thinking and methodology, with an emphasis on American writers and their postcololonial and anti-racist critics, and to appreciate conflicting points of view and longer histories within these debates.

Thinkers include Mary Wollstonecraft, Sojourner Truth, Aleksandra Kollontai, Rosa Luxemburg, Simone de Beauvoir, Frantz Fanon, Betty Friedan, Catherine Mackinnon, Andrea Dworkin, Shulamith Firestone, Adrianne Rich, Angela Davis, Bell Hooks, Eve Sedgewick, Sylvia Federici, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Donna Haraway, Hortense Spillers, Patricia J. Williams, Judith Butler, Kim TallBear, José Muñoz, Melinda Cooper, Sophie Lewis, M.E. O’Brian, and Amia Srinivasan, as well as materials from intersectional movements and jurisprudence that demanded legal and more-than-legal transformation, including the Atlanta Washer Women Strike of 1881, the Jane Collective, Wages for Housework, the Combahee River Collective, ACT-UP, INCITE!, sex worker unions, and the #MeToo movement.

Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Visiting Assistant Professor Siegel.

How to handle overenrollment: Preference will be given to LJST majors and SWAGS majors

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: engaging with, summarizing, and synthesizing theoretical and historical material, writing papers, and participating in discussion through small group work and close reading in class.

Permission is required for interchange registration during the add/drop period only.