Deborah Dinner

Deborah Dinner

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Professor of Law, Emory University School of Law

Deborah Dinner is a legal historian whose scholarship examines the interaction between social movements, political culture, and legal change. Dinner’s research focuses in particular on how law responds to vulnerabilities that derive from familial and employment relationships, at home and at work. Her courses and curricular interests include Property, the Fourteenth Amendment, Family Law, Employment Discrimination, and Legal History.

Dinner’s book-in-progress Contested Labor: Gender and the Law in Neoliberal America(forthcoming Cambridge University Press)examines debates about the meaning of sex equality in the late twentieth century. The book argues that neoliberal ideology, the rise of the New Right, and the transition from an industrial to a service economy foreclosed feminists’ efforts to achieve greater state protection for workers and caregivers, even as women made significant strides toward equal employment opportunity. Dinner’s most recent article “Beyond ‘Best Practices’: Employment Discrimination in the Neoliberal Era,” published in the Indiana Law Journal, shows that the rise of antidiscrimination ideals in the late twentieth century was intertwined with the deregulation of labor and with cutbacks in the welfare state.  Her article “The Divorce Bargain: The Fathers’ Rights Movement and Family Inequalities” offers the first legal history of the fathers’ rights movement and analyzes its consequences for class-differentiated experiences of fatherhood. The article was selected for presentation at the 2014 Yale/Stanford/Harvard Junior Faculty Forum and was published by Virginia Law Review in 2016. Dinner has published several other articles on the legal history of gender, work, and the welfare state in the Washington University Law ReviewHarvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law ReviewYale Journal of Law & Feminism, and Law & History Review.

Dinner joined Emory in 2015, after serving as an associate professor at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. Dinner earned her JD and PhD in history at Yale. Following law school, she clerked for Judge Karen Nelson Moore of the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and served as the Raoul Berger–Mark DeWolfe Howe Legal History Fellow at Harvard University and the Samuel I. Golieb Fellow in Legal History at New York University School of Law.