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Copyright 1990 Yale Law Journal Company.

Yale Law Journal

COMMENT: Convergences: Law, Literature, and Feminism.

June, 1990

Yale Law Journal

99 Yale L.J. 1913


Carolyn Heilbrun * and Judith Resnik **


One of us is a professor of law, the other a professor of literature, and both of us are professed feminists. To teach together, the obvious joint venture was feminism. Hence the title of a course: "Feminist Theory: Law and Literature" and our intensive study of the emerging field of "law and literature." But when we delved into the newly-minted discipline, we found to our dismay (and even, admitting, never-ending naivete) that like both "law" and "literature," much of that hyphenated field examines a world in which white men attempt from a place of power to speak as if for us all. Elizabeth Villiers Gemmette has, for example, described law and literature classes given in thirty-eight law schools. 1 Only one of the reading lists surveyed included "feminism" as a topic; most of the courses ignored women's voices altogether. 2 Robin West and Judith Koffler have also provided excellent critiques and suggestions for work in the field of law and literature; their efforts have not until recently, however, specifically touched on the necessity for reading literary works that represent woman and her particular demands upon the law as seen in fiction. 3

This essay dissents from the creation of a law and literature canon that excludes feminist perspectives. Both "law" and "literature" share the activity of generating narratives that illuminate, create, and reflect normative worlds, that bring experiences that might otherwise be invisible and silent into public view. Both law and literature have ...
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