Jane Larson 1958-2011 The University of Wisconsin Law School is deeply saddened by the loss of Professor Jane Larson, Voss-Bascom Professor of Law, who passed away unexpectedly from natural causes at her home in Madison last week. A brilliant scholar and teacher, Professor Larson joined the faculty in 1996 teaching Property, Women's Legal History, Conflicts of Laws, and Feminist Legal Theory. An immensely popular teacher, she once explained that she taught doctrine as if teaching musical scales, i.e. as a necessary technical skill on which all else is based. But, she said, it is the social, political and philosophical context that brings meaning to doctrine and makes music out of the law.
Among Professor Larson's signature scholarly contributions are her Columbia Law Review article on the development and decline of the tort of seduction, which later formed the basis for her co-authored Oxford University Press book, "Hard Bargains: The Politics of Sex" (with Linda R. Hirschman, 1999), and her work on informal housing in Texas, published in the Yale Law and Policy Review in 2002. In addition, she was a co-author (with Cyde Spillenger and Sylvia Law) of the historians' amicus brief in the case Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Washington v. Casey, which ultimately affirmed the core holdings of Roe v. Wade.
Writing on "The Faculty Lounge" blog, Professor Alfred Brophy of the University of North Carolina School of Law said that he was shocked and saddened to hear that Professor Larson had passed away. "Although I never met Professor Larson, so far as I can recall, I learned a great deal from her," he wrote. "Her article on the development and decline of the tort of seduction, "'Women Understand So Little, They Call My Good Nature 'Deceit'": A Feminist Rethinking of Seduction," in the Columbia Law Review in 1993, is a fabulous article and a model of how to integrate the history of doctrine with the surrounding social values. . . I think it one of the finest articles in legal history that I have ever read. I often recommend it to people who are thinking about writing on the history of doctrine and, though it's been nearly twenty years since I first read it, I still remember how I had the sense I'd read something very fresh and exciting. . . The world of legal scholarship has lost an innovator."
After earning her BA magna cum laude from Macalester College and a JD from the University of Minnesota Law School, Larson clerked for the Honorable Rosalie E. Wahl on the Minnesota Supreme Court and then for the Honorable Theodore A. McMillian on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. She began her teaching career on the faculty at Northwestern University School of Law and while there was twice awarded the Robert Childes Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence. After joining the University of Wisconsin faculty she was awarded the H. I. Romnes Faculty Fellowship for research and played an active role in the university's Land Tenure Center and the Law School's Institute for Legal Studies.
She is survived by her son Simon and her sister Jennifer.
Honoring Jane Larson
This panel honors the scholarship, teaching, and service of Professor Jane Larson. Her work on gender, poverty, race, and law combined theory, practice, teaching, and service to excluded and marginalized peoples, including the residents of the colonias in Texas. Across all of her endeavors ran a thread that turned traditional views of law on their head, bringing "outside" perspectives into the heart of legal analysis and practice.
Submitted by Law School News on October 31, 2012
This article appears in the categories: Articles