Studying Law at Roma Tre

Academic Year 2022-2023

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Spring Semester (March 1 - May 31, 2023)


Critical Perspectives On Private Law 2023

Prof. Maria Rosaria Marella

Course Description/Learning Objectives
The course will explore the main fields of private law, such as property, contract, torts and family law - and related legal concepts - from the critical perspectives elaborated by different schools of thought and movements like Legal Realism, Critical Legal Studies, Feminist Legal Theories and Queer Legal Studies.
Students will cope with different methods of analysis that unveil the ideology that lies beneath the supposed neutrality and abstraction of private law technicalities. The course ultimately aims at shedding light on the ways in which private law not only affects social, economic and gender relations but also directly and indirectly creates the identity of social actors by establishing the rules of the game and distributing economic resources and symbolic power. To this purpose special attention will be paid to the re-reading of the fundamental institutions of classical legal thought (contract, torts, property and family) offered by critical scholars and particularly feminist legal scholars.

Class Activities, Attendance Policy and Schedule
The teaching methodology will encourage students’ interaction with teacher and colleagues. Students are invited to take an active part during classes by discussing the readings previously studied. To fully understand the coursework topics attendance is strongly recommended.
The course is taught in presence and will begin on March 1st according to the following schedule: Wed. Thur. Fri 2-4 pm.

Assessment Tools
Final oral exam; in-class participation will be evaluated (where possible).

Wesley Newcomb Hohfeld, Some Fundamental Legal Conceptions as Applied in Judicial Reasoning, Yale Law Journal , Nov., 1913, Vol. 23, No. 1 (Nov., 1913), pp. 16-59;

Robert L. Hale, Coercion and Distribution in a Supposedly Non-Coercive State, Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 38, No. 3 (Sep., 1923), pp. 470-494;

Morris R. Cohen, Property and Sovereignty, 13 Cornell L. Rev. 8 (1927);

Duncan Kennedy, The Stakes of Law , or Hale and Foucault!, in Kennedy, Du., Sexy Dressing, etc., Harvard University Press, 1993;

Frances E. Olsen, The Family and the Market: A Study of Ideology and Legal Reform, Harvard Law Review, May, 1983, Vol. 96, No. 7 (May, 1983), pp. 1497-1578;

Maria Rosaria Marella, Critical Family Law, American University Journal of Gender Social Policy and Law 19, no. 2 (2011): 721-754;

Carol Rose, Women and Property: Gaining and Losing Ground, 78 Virginia Law Review (1992), pp. 421-459;

Debora L. Threedy, Feminists and Contract Theories, 32 Indiana Law Review (1999), pp. 1247-1265;

Mary Joe Frug, Rescuing Impossibility Doctrine: A Postmodern Feminist Analysis of Contract Law, 140 University of Pennsylvania Law Review (1992), pp. 1029-1046;

Maria Rosaria Marella, “Love Will Tear Us Apart”: Intrafamilial Torts and Family Regulation Between Italy and Canada, 7 Comparative Law Review (2016) pp. 1-35;

Crenshaw, Kimberle, Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics, University of Chicago Legal Forum: Vol. 1989: Iss. 1, Article 8, pp. 139-167;

Martha C. Nussbaum, “Whether From Reason Or Prejudice”: Taking Money For Bodily Services, The Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 27, No. S2 (June 1998), pp. 693-723;

Brenda Cossman, Queering Queer Legal Studies: An Unreconstructed Ode to Eve Sedgwick (and Others), 6 Critical Analysis of Law 1 (2019), pp. 23-38.

All course materials are available on the e-learning platform.


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