Conference: Gender, Law, and the British Novel

Friday, May 14, 2010 (All day) - Saturday, May 15, 2010 (All day)

Organized by Martha Nussbaum, Alison LaCroix, and Jane Dailey, this conference is the second in a series of law and literature conferences, the first of which was the successful Shakespeare conference held in the spring of 2009. 

This conference focuses on the interplay between law and gender in English literature in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  It seeks to explore, through a legal lens, the literary themes generated by gender and gender roles from Henry Fielding to George Bernard Shaw.  The conference hopes to imbue a broader understanding of the legal and social philosophies that changed and were changed by the respective roles of women and men in England, encouraging a deeper and more complex appreciation in the fields of both literature and the law.  Distinguished writer Sara Paretsky, author of the V.I. Warshawski detective novels, will be a guest speaker. 

Following the tradition set by the first law and literature conference, faculty and student actors will perform dramatic scenes from English plays of the era.  The conference is co-sponsored by the Center for Gender Studies.

Open to the public.  No registration necessary.

Friday, May 14

9:30 a.m. Breakfast

10:00 a.m. Opening Remarks, Location: RM IV

Martha Nussbaum, Alison LaCroix, Jane Dailey, and Dean Michael Schill

10:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Student Panel, Location: RM IV

Alyssa Luboff, "Old Maids, Widows and Kindred Spirits: the Struggle Between Ideal Freedom and Social Reality in L.M. Montgomery's Anne Novels"

Ann K. Wagner, "Sexual Assault in the Shadow of the Law: Character and Proof in Samuel Richardson's Clarissa"

Jajah Wu, "Call it Gossip: Persuasion and the Power of Information"

Student Commentators: Julie Murray, Jajah Wu

Chair: Emily Buss

12:15 p.m.-1:15 p.m. Break

1:15 p.m.-3:45 p.m. Context and Interpretation, Location: RM IV

Alison LaCroix, "The Lawyer's Library in the Early American Republic"

Robert Ferguson, "Proposals and Performative Utterance in the Nineteenth-Century Novel: The Professional Man's Plight"

Sandra Macpherson: "Character Shape: Toward a Feminist Formalism"

Blakey Vermeule: "A Comeuppance Theory of Narrative"

Chair: Eric Slauter

3:45 p.m.-4:00 p.m. Break

4:00 p.m.-5:15 p.m. Scenes from The Beaux' Stratagem, and Mrs Warren's Profession, Location: Courtroom

5:15 p.m.-5:30 p.m. Break

5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. Keynote Conversation, Location: Courtroom

Sara Paretsky, Martha Nussbaum, Alison LaCroix, and Nicola Lacey

6:30 p.m. Reception

Saturday, May 15

8:30 a.m. Breakfast

9:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Law and Family, Location: RM IV

Martha Nussbaum, "The Stain of Illegitimacy: Gender, Law, and Trollopian Subversion"

Saul Levmore, "Primogeniture, Legal Change, and Trollope"

Julie Suk, "Moral and Legal Consequences of Wife-Selling in The Mayor of Casterbridge"

Chair: Julia Simon-Kerr

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Break

12:30 p.m.-3 p.m. The Nature of Law, Location: RM IV


Nicola Lacey, "Could He Forgive Her? Gender, Agency and Women's Criminality in Trollope"

Douglas Baird, "Law, Commerce, and Gender in Trollope’s Framley Parsonage

Bernadette Meyler, "Liminal Legalities: Traveling Women in Defoe's Fictions"

Geoffrey Stone, "Origins of Obscenity"

Chair: Randy Berlin

Martha C. Nussbaum
Alison L. LaCroix