Bond University

Article Title

Citizenship and Gender in the Public Law Curriculum: Reclaiming Political Stories and Context


When I was asked to transform my paper delivered at the 1995 Feminist Legal Academic Workshop into a Legal Education Review article, I expanded my outline into a slightly more detailed form. In looking at incorporating “feminist material” into the curriculum I concentrated on citizenship in light of my teaching and research interests in constitutional law, administrative law and migration law. As I have recently begun to think of these matters in my teaching, much of my talk looked at options and possibilities; in many ways it was a list of possible material that could be included in public law courses. On its submission for publication, I was tactfully informed that it “was not suitable for publishing ..., as it [was] still very much a conference paper”. I was asked to remove the conversational language, and apart from changing the style, I was also asked to give more detailed information about the material that could be included in the public law courses and how that material could be used. I agree with the latter concerns and this article attempts to advance my conference paper. However, the question of style and content “suitable for a law review article” highlights a critical issue which also impacts on this topic. This article proposes that we recognise that there are different ways of imparting information in the written form, and that the conversational piece is a legitimate part of legal scholarship. Moreover, our curriculum should include creative styles of legal expression for our students to accommodate and encourage difference. This will in turn assist us in our feminist concerns about citizenship and the law school curriculum. Furthermore, it is vital that we consider the teaching of material in ways that include the political contexts within which public law exists. Therefore, in changing my conference paper into this article, I am relying to some extent on some of the scholarship of critical theory; in particular, the embracing of subjectivity of perspective and the avowedly political. Often the method of critical discourse is the narrative, and I am maintaining the narrative style of my original conference paper, relying upon my own teaching experience. My story is therefore seeking to emphasise the message of the critical movement of being concerned with the stories that highlight the different political issues at play. It seeks to show that many stories are excluded from public law forums because of the way we speak about public law. Part of our role as teachers is to reclaim the stories and the greater political contexts within which citizenship is exercised in public law. Sometimes this means listening to and thinking about legal issues in styles and formats that are not considered publishable by mainstream journals.