FeministLawProf Profile: Jessica Silbey

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Jessica Silbey is a professor at Suffolk University of Law.   Her scholarly interests focus on the cultural analysis of law, including the interdiscipline of law and literature and law and film.   Before joining the faculty of Suffolk Law School, Professor Silbey was a litigator at Foley Hoag LLP in Boston. She also served as a law clerk to the Honorable Robert E. Keeton on the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts and to the Honorable Levin Campbell on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

FLP: What is your educational and professional background?

JS: I have a PhD in Comparative Literature from U Michigan and a JD from U Michigan. I pursued them jointly. I did my undergraduate work at Stanford University. After law school, I clerked for two years  and then litigated for several years in Boston. I entered academia in 2004, just four months after I gave birth to my first child.  

FLP: What courses do you teach?

JS: I teach constitutional law and intellectual property (copyright and trademarks).

FLP: How does feminism influence your teaching/scholarship/service?

JS: To me, feminism is the study of power imbalance with attention to gender inequity. If law is one way in which society distributes power among various constituencies and individuals, feminism is inevitably part of the study of law. In my constitutional law course, we regularly discuss the role of equality and liberty and the governmental balance of power — all issues that are intimately involved in gender relations in our society. And it seems that in my scholarship I keep writing about how narrative and various forms of storytelling (film, written fiction, rhetoric generally) work to undo or solidify various relations of power between individuals and within or among  groups.    

FLP: What are you working on now?

JS: I am working on an article that investigates how origin myths structure and explain intellectual property protection in the United States.

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