Faculty Profiles

Martha Albertson Fineman

Martha Albertson Fineman

Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Law

Areas of Expertise

Child Advocacy, Children's Rights, Equality Theory, Family Law, Feminist Legal Theory, Sexuality and Law, Women and the Law, Reproductive Issues

Curriculum Vitae

Martha Albertson Fineman is Robert W. Woodruff Professor. An internationally recognized law and society scholar, Fineman is a leading authority on family law and feminist jurisprudence. Following graduation from University of Chicago Law School in 1975, she clerked for the Hon. Luther M. Swygert of the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Fineman began her teaching career at the University of Wisconsin in 1976. In 1990, she moved to Columbia University where she was Maurice T. Moore Professor. Before coming to Emory, she was on the Cornell Law School faculty where she held the Dorothea Clarke Professorship, the first endowed chair in feminist jurisprudence in the nation. Fineman continues to expand the boundaries of feminist jurisprudence, leading the way towards a new legal framework based on vulnerability theory.

Fineman is founder and director of the Feminism and Legal Theory (FLT) Project, which was inaugurated in 1984. In 2010, the 25th anniversary edition of Transcending the Boundaries of Law: Generations of Feminism and Legal Theory was published. Two other collections from the FLT Project edited by Fineman are: What Is Right for Children? The Competing Paradigms Religion and International Human Rights (with Worthington) and Feminist and Queer Legal Theories: Intimate Encounters, Uncomfortable Conversation (with Jackson and Romero), both published by Ashgate Press in 2009.

The Vulnerability and the Human Condition Initiative (VHC) emerged from the Feminism and Legal Theory Project in 2008 and comprises the bulk of Fineman’s current research and writing. Fineman serves as director of the VHC and organizes several local and international academic workshops each year. These VHC workshops allow scholars to engage in the concepts of “vulnerability” and “resilience” and the idea of a “responsive state” in constructing a universal approach to address the human condition. Recent publications from the VHC Initiative include a chapter titled “Injury in the Unresponsive State: Writing the Vulnerable Subject into Neo-Liberal Legal Culture” in Injury and Injustice: The Cultural Politics of Harm and Redress (Cambridge 2018); Vulnerability and the Legal Organization of Work (Routledge 2017); and Vulnerability: Reflections on a New Ethical Foundation for Law and Politics (Ashgate 2013).

Fineman’s scholarly interests are the legal regulation of family and intimacy and the legal implications of universal dependency and vulnerability. Fineman's solely authored publications include books—The Autonomy Myth: A Theory of Dependency, The New Press (2004); The Neutered Mother, and The Sexual Family and other Twentieth Century Tragedies, Routledge Press (1995); and The Illusion of Equality: The Rhetoric and Reality of Divorce Reform, University of Chicago Press (1991)—in addition to dozens of journal articles and essays. Her essay in the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, “The Vulnerable Subject: Anchoring Equality in the Human Condition,” formed the basis of Vulnerability: Reflections on a New Ethical Foundation for Law and Politics, published by Princeton University Press in 2013.

Fineman has received numerous awards for her writing and teaching, including the prestigious Harry J. Kalven Jr. Prize for her intellectual leadership in the study of gender, law, and the family, the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017, and the Miriam M. Netter ‘72 Stoneman Award and Kate Stoneman Day annual lecture at SUNY Albany in 2018. She has served on several government study commissions. She teaches courses and seminars on family law, feminist jurisprudence, law and sexuality, and reproductive issues. For more information, visit www.law.emory.edu/flt »

Books:

Vulnerability and the Legal Organization of Work (with J. Fineman), Routledge 2017.

Privatization, Vulnerability, and Social Responsibility: A Comparative Perspective (with U. Andersson and T. Mattsson), Routledge 2017.

Masculinities and Feminisms: Critical Perspectives (with M. Thomson), Ashgate Press 2013.

Vulnerability: Reflections on a New Ethical Foundation for Law and Politics (with A. Grear), Ashgate Press 2013.

Books (editor and contributor):

“Injury in the Unresponsive State: Writing the Vulnerable Subject into Neo-Liberal Legal Culture,” in Injury and Injustice: The Cultural Politics of Harm and Redress, Cambridge University Press: A. Bloom, D. Engel, M. McCann eds. (2018).

Feminist and Queer Legal Theory: Intimate Encounters, Uncomfortable Conversations (with J. Jackson and A. Romero),  Ashgate Press 2009.

Articles:

“Vulnerability and Social Justice,” Valparaiso Law Review (2019).

“Vulnerability and Inevitable Inequality,” Oslo Law Review (peer reviewed, 2017).

“Homeschooling the Vulnerable Child” – University of Baltimore Law Review (2016 with George Shepherd).

Presentations

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 video »