The Feminism and Legal Theory Project
More Than 30 Years of Revolutionary Scholarship
The Feminism and Legal Theory Project fosters interdisciplinary examinations of the ways in which the interaction of law and culture shapes expectations, policies, and practices related to gender. More specifically, the Project addresses the intersection of gender with issues relating to age, race, class, ability and sexuality. It has also generated a new theoretical venture in the Vulnerability and the Human Condition Initiative that moves beyond identities to bring together diverse perspectives and disciplines to advance a social justice framework rooted in the universality of human vulnerability and the need for a responsive state.
- To provide a means to introduce scholarship that applies feminist theory and methodology into legal debate, legislative reform movements, and the broader academic community through publication of the conference papers
- To support and encourage feminist scholarship on gender and legal equality issues that analyze the differential impact of law on women and men, and to consider also in this regard differences that exist or arise between differently situated women
- To provide a forum within which feminist theorists can present their work and receive feedback from other scholars who share a common theoretical perspective and methodology
Vulnerability and the Human Condition: A Different Approach to Equality, featuring Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Law and Director of the Feminism and Legal Theory Project, Martha Albertson Fineman View video >>
Feminism, Masculinities, and Multiple Identities, featuring Martha Fineman and Elizabeth F. Emens. View the video >>
Feminism & Legal Theory Project Background
Nothing is off limits! The FLT Project is committed to challenging the status quo.
The Feminism and Legal Theory Project began in 1984 by Martha L.A. Fineman at the University of Wisconsin Law School. The initial mission of the FLT Project was to provide a forum for interdisciplinary feminist scholarship addressing important issues in law and society. The early years of the project were funded through grants from the Wisconsin Law School’s Institute for Legal Studies. Over the first six years, summer workshops brought scholars together around contested issues where they considered such topics as gender difference, violence against women, and motherhood.
In 1990, the FLT Project moved with Martha to Columbia Law School, where the number of workshop sessions each year increased from one in the summer to three or four during the academic year. In 1999, the Project relocated to Cornell Law School where Martha held the first endowed Chair in the United States in Feminist Jurisprudence. The Project once again expanded its scope, adding “Uncomfortable Conversations” to the regular workshop schedule.
In 2004, the FLT Project moved to its current home at Emory University Law School, where Martha holds a Robert W. Woodruff Professorship. Funds from the Woodruff Professorship support the Project and its programming. The move to Emory and Atlanta has allowed the FLT Project to reach a greater audience and attract scholars from around the world.
At Emory, the FLT Project initiated a very successful Visiting Scholars Program. Each year between five and eight scholars from around the world come to Emory for periods of time ranging from one week to the entire academic year. In addition, the Project added a series of speakers on “Critical Perspectives on the Core Curriculum” to the existing programming in 2005.
Over the past several decades, the FLT Project has grown from holding an annual conference, to hosting multiple workshops, conversations and presentations throughout the year. As a result, each year distinguished visitors and speakers bring a wealth of new ideas and energy to Emory.
The FLT Project has also taken its message “on the road” and partnered with groups of interested feminists from other Universities, including the Universities of Wisconsin and SUNY-Buffalo in the United States and Keele and Ulster Universities in the United Kingdom. Holding joint workshops and encouraging others to explore gender issues has allowed the FLT model to expand beyond the Project itself.
Even with the tremendous growth in the programming over the past several years, the FLT Project’s basic structure and core commitment remain the same: to foster interdisciplinary examinations of specific law and policy topics of particular interest to women. More generally, the Project addresses the intersection of gender with issues relating to race, class, ability and sexuality.
Martha Albertson Fineman
Professor Martha Albertson Fineman, Director and Founder of the Feminism and Legal Theory Project, received her B.A. from Temple University in 1971 and her J.D. from the University of Chicago in 1975. She has received numerous professional honors and awards and held several distinguished professorships. She is currently a Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Law at Emory University School of Law. She has authored three books: The Autonomy Myth: A Theory of Dependency, (2004); The Neutered Mother, The Sexual Family and Other Twentieth Century Tragedies, (1995); and, The Illusion of Equality: The Rhetoric and Reality of Divorce Reform, (1991).
- 2011 Interview with Professor Martha Albertson Fineman, Director, The Vulnerability and The Human Condition Initiative conducted by Niklas Selberg & Linnea Wegerstand, Doctoral Candidates, Lund University
The following sites may be of interest:
9. International Humanitarian Law Project (London School of Economics)