Tag Archives: Law

  • #BalanceforBetter: Our Top Titles for International Women's Day

    This International Women’s Day, who will you celebrate? From radical housewives to the future of work, from violence to trafficking to politics and law, this week we’re highlighting top titles that celebrate women’s achievements, participate in a larger conversation, and reflect diverse and global voices.

    On March 8, we’re joining groups worldwide in the call for a more gender-balanced world.

    Let's turn the page.

    Disrupting Breast Cancer Narratives: Stories of Rage and Repair

    Resisting the optimism of pink ribbon culture, these stories use anger as a starting place to reframe cancer as a collective rather than an individual problem. Emilia Nielsen looks at documentaries, television, and social media, arguing that personal narratives have the power to shift public discourse.

    Female Doctors in Canada: Experience and Culture

    The face of medicine is changing. Though women increasingly dominate the profession, they still must navigate a system that has been designed for and by men. Looking at education, health systems, and expectations, this important new collection from experienced physicians and researchers opens a much-needed conversation.

    Wrapping Authority: Women Islamic Leaders in a Sufi Movement in Dakar, Senegal

    Since around 2000, a growing number of women in Dakar have come to act openly as spiritual leaders for both men and women. Learn how, rather than contesting conventional roles, these women are making them integral parts of their leadership. These female leaders present spiritual guidance as a form of nurturing motherhood, yet like Sufi mystical discourse, their self-presentations are profoundly ambiguous.

    Women and Gendered Violence in Canada: An Intersectional Approach

    A significant expansion on the conversation on gendered violence, this new book from Chris Bruckert and Tuulia Law draws on a range of theoretical traditions emerging from feminism, criminology, and sociology. Find compelling first-person narratives, suggested activities, and discussions on everything from campus violence to online violence to victim blaming.

    The Talent Revolution: Longevity and the Future of Work

    This book is a first. Two women from different generations debunk commonly held myths about older workers, showing how the future of work requires engaging employees across all life stages. Work-life longevity is the most influential driver transforming today’s workplace – learn how to make it a competitive advantage.

    Indigenous Women’s Writing and the Cultural Study of Law

    How do Indigenous women recuperate their relationships to themselves, the land, the community, and the settler-nation? Through a close analysis of major texts written in the post-civil rights period, Cheryl Suzack sheds light on how these writers use storytelling to engage in activism.

    Responding to Human Trafficking: Dispossession, Colonial Violence, and Resistance among Indigenous and Racialized Women

    In the first book to critically examine responses to the growing issue of human trafficking in Canada, Julie Kay reveals how some anti-trafficking measures create additional harms for the very individuals they’re trying to protect – particularly migrant and Indigenous women. An important new framework for the critical analysis of rights-based and anti-violence interventions.

    Becoming Strong: Impoverished Women and the Struggle to Overcome Violence

    What role can trauma play in shaping homeless women’s lives? Drawing on more than 150 in-depth interviews, Laura Huey and Ryan Broll explore the diverse effects of trauma in the lives of homeless female victims of violence. This essential read offers not only a comprehensive examination of trauma, but also explores how women may recover and develop strategies for coping with traumatic experiences.

    Lissa: A Story about Medical Promise, Friendship, and Revolution

    Two young girls in Cairo strike up an unlikely friendship that crosses class, cultural, and religious divides. The first in a new series, Lissa brings anthropological research comes to life in comic form, combining scholarly insights and rich storytelling to foster greater understanding of global politics, inequalities, and solidarity.

    Ms. Prime Minister: Gender, Media, and Leadership

    News about female leaders gives undue attention to their gender identities, bodies, and family lives – but some media accounts also expose sexism and authenticate women’s performances of leadership. Offering both solace and words of caution for women politicians, Linda Trimble provides important insight into the news frameworks that work to deny or confer political legitimacy.

    A New History of Iberian Feminisms

    Both a chronological history and an analytical discussion of feminist thought from the eighteenth century onward, this history of the Iberian Peninsula addresses lost texts of feminist thought, and reveals the struggles of women to achieve full citizenship. Learn what helped launch a new feminist wave in the second half of the century.

    Radical Housewives: Price Wars and Food Politics in Mid-Twentieth-Century Canada

    This history of Canada’s Housewives Consumers Association recovers a history of women’s social justice activism in an era often considered dormant – and reinterprets the view of postwar Canada as economically prosperous. Discover how these radical activists fought to protect consumers’ interests in the postwar years.

    Want to keep learning? Visit International Women’s Day for more details about this year’s #BalanceforBetter Campaign.

  • Behind the Book with Greig Henderson

    Creating Legal Worlds: Story and Style in a Culture of Argument

    Greig Henderson is the author of Creating Legal Worlds: Story and Style in a Culture of Argument. Henderson analyses how the rhetoric of storytelling often carries as much argumentative weight within a judgement as the logic of legal distinctions

    How did you become involved in your area of research?
    For the past thirty years I have been a faculty member and lecturer in the Judicial Writing Program sponsored by the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice, a four-day program for federally appointed judges.  I also do work for the Public Prosecutors of Canada, the Ontario Council for Written Advocacy, the National Judicial Institute, and various other legal institutions.  Over the years, I have conducted dozens of writing seminars for courts, tribunals, and law firms.  So my angle of vision is a little different from that of a legal scholar.  I tend to look at things from the point of view of the writer and the rhetorical and stylistic choices he or she must make.  My interest in legal and judicial writing connects with my teaching and research in the Department of English at the University of Toronto, teaching and research that deal with rhetoric, narrative, and literary theory.

    What inspired you to write this book?
    The more I taught judges how to write, the more convinced I became that narrative, rhetoric, and style are essential elements of judicial writing and that a judgment is more akin to a short story or novella than to a syllogism or deductive argument.  Storytelling is crucial to legal decision-making because the primary task of the judge is to make a coherent and convincing story out of the sometimes conflicting and contradictory particulars of a given case.  Thus the angle of vision from which the story is told (narrative perspective) and the language and style in which it is couched (narrative voice) have an impact on the decision arrived at.  The agents a judge empowers to see and say are often the agents whose arguments prevail.

    What do you find most interesting about your area of research?
    It was exciting to find out that aspects of rhetorical and literary theory, in addition to being tools of interpretation and analysis, have practical implications for legal writing, that focalization (narrative perspective), verbalization (narrative voice), and agency (the conferring of voluntary choice and action on selected persons or entitities) have an impact on the efficacy and persuasiveness of an argument or decision.

    What’s the most surprising thing you discovered during the course of your research?
    It was also exciting to find out that there’s a lot of wit and eloquence in legal writing and that many lawyers and judges are gifted stylistic and rhetorical artists working in a different genre, a genre, I think, that repays close reading in the same way that a literary text repays close reading.

    What was the hardest part of writing your book?
    Aside from the discovery of arguments, the hardest part of writing is having the courage to omit things, things that are interesting but irrelevant.  “Keeping Fury Underground: Rational Justice in Aeschylus’s Oresteia” was my favourite chapter in the original manuscript, but, eloquent as I thought it was, it had to go because it wasn’t integral to the main argument.  There were lots of other things that had to go as well.

    What are your current/future projects?
    I’m currently revising a review article that will come out next month in The Osgoode Hall Law Journal.  The book is David Gurnham’s Crime, Desire, and Law’s Unconscious, and I’m currently reading a great book by Ummni Khan, Vicarious Kinks: S/M in the Socio-Legal Imaginary.  When judges write about sex and eloquently evoke what they morally revile, interesting things happen.

    What do you like to read for pleasure? 
    I’m a crime fiction junkie.  I love the classics—Hammett, Chandler, and the like—as well as contemporary stuff by Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, Andrea Camilleri, and many others.


  • Behind the Book with Stephen M. Yeager

    From Lawmen to PlowmenStephen M. Yeager is the author of From Lawmen to Plowmen: Anglo-Saxon Legal Tradition and the School of Langland. In From Lawmen to Plowmen, Stephen M. Yeager offers a fresh, insightful explanation for the alliterative structure of William Langland’s Piers Plowman and the flourishing of alliterative verse satires in late medieval England by observing the similarities between these satires and the legal-homiletical literature of the Anglo-Saxon era.

    How did you become involved in your area of research?
    As a reader I've always loved formal experimentation, from the provocations of avant-garde literature to the more familiar surprises of genre-bending commercial fiction. I was drawn to medieval studies as a researcher because I was fascinated by the ability of medieval literature to consistently confound my expectations about what texts are likely to do. There's something especially exciting about being pushed to examine your notions of "literature" itself by writers like Wulfstan and Langland, who seem to act as if their highly unusual texts are nothing but conventional articulations of common sense. As exciting as formal experiments can be, it's even more exciting to go back to the beginning, and see where the conventions came from.

    What inspired you to write this book?

    I started my research with a fairly basic question: if alliterative verse in the fourteenth century is a sign of conscious archaism, as some scholars have argued about alliterative romances like Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, then why is Piers Plowman alliterative? Nothing about this highly political, satirical text seems particularly archaic; so what does the choice of this unusual verse form for Piers Plowman tell us about that text? By the same token, what does the text tell us about alliterative verse?

    When I began to look at the evidence, I quickly found that the most obvious precedents for political, alliterative writing in the earlier English corpus were not poems and romances, but homiletic law codes and legal documents. These legal, historical texts had continued to circulate throughout the later Middle Ages, influencing vernacular works in multiple genres along the way. Hence if I was going to answer my question about the Piers Plowman tradition, I was going to have to rethink the continuity in English writing from the Conquest to the fourteenth century, expanding the field to think about the broader formal overlaps between early English legal documents and poems, found for example in intermediate genres like chronicle and homily.

    Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
    It's been said somewhere that every book is an autobiography, no matter the subject, and I think there's some truth to that statement. For that reason, I can only envision very long and very short answers to this question. I'll stick with a short one: I learned that the image of the poet Laȝamon in the manuscript London BL Caligula A.ix, appearing on the cover for the book, is the earliest known portrait of an English language author.

    What was the hardest part of writing your book?
    There comes a moment in the writing process where you have to stop thinking so hard. Instead of challenging yourself and pushing your conclusions further, you have to go back over the conclusions you already have, to make sure that the arguments that lead to them are organized well enough for a reader besides yourself to understand them.

    Of course, revisions are not particularly difficult in their own right—indeed, they often come with their own quiet pleasures. The difficulty for me was in the transition from researching to revising. Going over my work, I saw all of the roads for further research it had opened up, and it took a lot of effort to hold myself back from pursuing them.

    What are your current/future projects?
    I'm following up on a few points in the conclusion to From Lawmen to Plowmen, to think about Chaucer's memories of Anglo-Saxon England in The Canterbury Tales. Or course Chaucer doesn't say much about the Anglo-Saxons, but the few mentions in the Tales do have a striking tendency to appear at moments of rupture and authorial self-representation. People have written a great deal about Chaucer's self-conception as a vernacular poet in relation to earlier English romances; but what about his relationship to earlier English legal texts and documents, many of which were still being copied and circulated in the fourteenth century?

    What do you like to read for pleasure? What are you currently reading?
    My main criteria for picking a book is that it be as different as possible from the book I previously read. Besides literary fiction I enjoy science fiction, book-length journalism, and the occasional thriller; but I'm a short sales-pitch away from trying anything.

    Right now I'm reading a novel called The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth, primarily for pleasure but also for work. The novel was long-listed for the Booker prize in 2014, and it tells the story of a man who leads a group of guerrilla fighters against the Normans in the immediate aftermath of 1066. The most striking thing about the book is its use of a kind of hybrid Old/Modern English dialect, which the author calls a "shadow tongue." The book uses this dialect to great effect, and it gives us a portrait of a world that is both convincingly medieval and recognizably, troublingly contemporary.

  • Author Footnotes with Sheila Cavanagh

    I was overjoyed to hear that Bill C-389 passed through the General Assembly on Feb. 9. It is now ready for a vote in Senate. If it passes we will see 'gender identity' and 'gender expression' added to the Canadian Human Rights Act and to the Criminal Code as prohibited grounds for discrimination. It would be a landmark victory for trans and gender variant folks who experience discrimination at work; in universities, colleges, and high schools; in restaurants; bars; transit stations; prisons; parks; malls, Canada Customs, public facilities --- you name it!

    As the author of Queering Bathrooms: Gender, Sexuality, and the Hygienic Imagination, I couldn't help but notice that those opposing the Bill routinely evoke the specter of the bathroom. Rather than vilifying the toilet and evoking it as a rationale for gender segregated spaces in public, let us consider a few facts about violence:

    1) There are no laws in Canada governing the gender of bathroom users but security guards and police continue to forcefully remove trans and gender variant folks from public facilities.

    2) Violence against women is more likely to occur in dark, enclosed, gender segregated spaces than in well-lit, public, and accessible spaces. The gendered signs on bathroom doors do not decrease the likelihood of physical or sexual assault.

    3) When we talk about violence against women we need to include trans women who are --- as my research shows --- very likely to experience harassment and sometimes physical assault by non trans women in the washroom. Non trans men also feel entitled to forcefully remove gender variant people from the so-called 'women's' room.

    4) Most physical and sexual assaults occur in gender segregated toilets and not in gender neutral or unisex bathrooms.

    5) Gender segregated bathrooms make it difficult for fathers to take their young daughters into public toilets without evoking suspicion. (Family bathrooms often disallow adult men from entry.)

    I recommend that we build gender neutral and accessible bathrooms. But I don't advocate the doing away with gendered bathrooms entirely; they are important spaces for LGBT communities. Gender is not a problem per se. Gender policing is. My wish is that we could work creatively, in gay positive and trans-positive ways with gender signage so that it prompts people to question assumptions about sex and gender identity in fun and ethical ways.

    So let me add my unanimous support for C-389 and invite us all to demand access to public facilities in keeping with our gender identities!

    Sheila L. Cavanagh,
    Associate Professor and Sexuality Studies Program Coordinator at York University

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