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Sappho Goes to Law School: Fragments in Lesbian Legal Theory / Edition 1

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Overview

In Sappho Goes to Law School Ruthann Robson weaves together concepts taken from traditional legal theory, postmodernism, feminist theory, and queer theory, as well as her own personal experience in the courtroom and classroom, to take stock of the complexities of lesbian identity and the often detrimental ways in which legal scholarship approaches lesbianism.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Ruth Colker
Dunlap, Mary C.Sappho Goes to Law School is distinctively necessary, valuable, and comprehensive. It serves the vital purpose of providing a deep, well-researched, lesbian-centered commentary on the development and status of U.S. law, both substantive and procedural.
Library Journal
The legal status of lesbians and gay men in contemporary America continues to be controversial, as illustrated by these two very different titles, both by professors of law. Richards aims to combine "interpretive history, political philosophy, and constitutional argument to make sense of the background, development and growing impact of two of the most important movements of human rights currently on the American constitutional scene: feminism and gay rights" and ends by claiming to have explored "the interpretive fertility of antebellum abolition feminism in both the understanding and criticism of contemporary interpretive developments in the areas of gender and sexual preference." His analysis, however cogent, is undermined by a downplaying of lesbians in the title and elsewhere, a problematic conceptualization of "moral slavery," and Richards's often nearly impenetrable prose. In contrast, the rhetorical proposition in the title of Robson's exploration of lesbians and the legal machine is pointedly provocative and witty as well. This challenging collection of 13 essays can be read as a continuation of her previous book, Lesbian (Out)Law: Survival Under the Rule of Law (LJ 6/1/92). Applying queer theory to her examination of the legal system and legal theory to the concept of lesbianism, Robson confronts the complexities of such issues as lesbian identity, class, violence, marriage, and parenting. The writing, a heady mix of pedagogy, lesbian sex, and jurisprudence, is dense and iconoclastic but always intellectually stimulating, ultimately rewarding the reader who perseveres: "But in addition to their danger, both essentialism (modernism) and constructionism (postmodernism) present possibilities for an emancipatory enterprise such as a lesbian legal theory." If 70 pages of endnotes seems excessive, it only reinforces the notion that these titles are intended for subject collections.--Jim Van Buskirk, San Francisco P.L.
Booknews
Presents 13 of the author's essays which develop a lesbian legal theory that would welcome Sappho or any of her modern incarnations to the legal arena. Paper topics include lesbians and criminal justice, the feminist jurisprudence question, the codifications of lesbian relationships, the third sex and child custody, and teaching lesbian sexuality in the law school classroom. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

RUTHANN ROBSON is professor of law at the City University of New York School of Law. She is the author of Lesbian (Out)Law and Legal Issues for Lesbians.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Appeal of Sappho
1 The Specter of a Lesbian Supreme Court Justice: Problems of Identity 1
2 Incendiary Categories 2
3 Convictions: Lesbians and Criminal Justice 29
4 Embodiment(s) 43
5 Taxonomies and Reflections: The Feminist Jurisprudence Question 75
6 Beginning from (My) Experience: Lesbian Narratives 87
7 The Codification of Lesbian Relationships: Examples from Law and Literature 113
8 States of Marriage 131
9 Resisting the Family: Repositioning Lesbians 153
10 The Third Sex, Third Parties, and Child Custody 171
11 Neither Sexy Nor Reasonable 197
12 To Market, to Market: Considering Class 205
13 Lesbian Sex in a Law School Classroom 215
Notes 225
Index 295
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