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Harold C. Schott Scholarship Lecture: Professor Kristin Kalsem

March 13, 2014 12:10pm
Room 114

2013 Harold C. Schott Scholarship Award Lecture

Webcast: Kalsem Lecture (available on March 13 at 12:15 p.m.)


Kristin Kalsem, the Charles Hartsock Professor of Law, will present the lecture “From Wuthering Heights to Our Own West End: Women’s Writing/Women’s Advocacy” based on her recent book IN CONTEMPT: NINETEENTH-CENTURY WOMEN, LAW, AD LITERATURE, as well as her current social justice feminist work and community-based research.  For much of the nineteenth-century, women were not allowed to be legislators, lawyers, judges, or jurors; they could not “officially” participate in the legal realm.  However, as Professor Kalsem documents in her book, women played significant roles in legal reform, making use of public fora that were accessible to them, including “outlaw texts” such as the nineteenth-century novel.  In her lecture, Professor Kalsem will discuss texts ranging from legislative reports and trial transcripts to Gothic, utopian, and New Woman novels, offering analyses of women’s advocacy and writings in connection with legal reforms relating to married women’s property, birth control, mental health, and women in the legal profession.  She also will discuss present-day examples of creative advocacy.


About Professor Kalsem

Professor Kalsem received her J.D. with Honors from the University of Chicago Law School in 1987 and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Iowa in 2001, where she also served as a member of their English Department and a lecturer at their law school.  Professor Kalsem has been an influential scholar in women and the law since joining our faculty in 2001.  She also serves as co-director of the College’s Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice and a co-director of the joint degree program in law and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies.

In her 2012 book, In Contempt: Nineteenth-Century Women, Law, and Literature (Ohio State University Press), Professor Kalsem brings together law, literature, and feminism to illuminate how 19th century women writers advocated legal issues in their literary works and lives as authors.  The book is an important interdisciplinary accomplishment befitting the recognition of the Schott Award.  In the book, Professor Kalsem reveals and details a wealth of suppressed evidence of 19th century women’s feminist jurisprudence (“outlaw texts,” as she identifies them), casting new light on history and introducing useful new ways to see the performance of feminist jurisprudence in law and literature.  Christine Krueger, professor of English at Marquette University, is among those who have praised the book, noting  that  “Kristin Kalsem’s In Contempt makes a significant contribution to scholarship on the history of feminist jurisprudence.  She covers thorny legal issues including married women’s property, infanticide, and lunacy law, as well as birth control, imperialism, and women’s admission to the bar.  In her afterword she urges scholars to engage the ‘new evidence’ she has brought to light—and I have no doubt that this evidence will be welcomed enthusiastically.”

As students and colleagues of Professor Kalsem know, she is a teacher and scholar who is firmly dedicated to bridging theory and practice.  That determination is fully evident in In Contempt – as it is, too, in her article Social Justice Feminism, 18 UCLA Women’s Law Journal 131 (2010) (with Professor Verna L. Williams), which inspired a conference last fall that brought scholars and activists from around the nation to Cincinnati to explore new ways of understanding and doing feminist work today and into the future.