Kristin Kalsem

Headshot of Kristin Kalsem

Kristin Kalsem

Charles Hartsock Professor of Law | Co-director, Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice, College of Law

420 College of Law Building


Areas of Interest: Bankruptcy, Commercial Law, Feminist Legal Theory, Law and Literature


Professor Kalsem teaches in the areas of commercial law, bankruptcy, feminist legal theory, and law and literature, receiving several teaching awards since joining the faculty in 2001.  She also is co-director of the College’s Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice and the university's joint-degree program in Law and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, a pioneer program for which the College of Law is nationally known.

Professor Kalsem writes in the areas of women's legal history and the cultural study of law and received the 2012 Harold C. Schott Scholarship Award for her book In Contempt: Nineteenth-Century Women, Law, and Literature. She also writes about issues of gender, race, and class in the contexts of bankruptcy reform and consumer protection. Her scholarship has been published in such journals as the Harvard Women's Law Journal, the Southern California Review of Law and Women's Studies, the UCLA Women's Law Journal, and The Michigan Journal of Race and Law.

Professor Kalsem has presented papers at national and international conferences, including meetings of the Law and Society Association and the Association of Law, Culture, and the Humanities. She has served as chair of the American Association of Law School's Section of Law and the Humanities and currently sits on the Executive Board of the Section.

Prior to joining the UC faculty, Professor Kalsem taught at the University of Iowa's College of Law and Department of English while completing her doctoral studies. Her interdisciplinary scholarship on 19th-century women and the law was supported by numerous fellowships and grants, including a Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation Grant and an American Fellowship from the Association of University Women.

Professor Kalsem practiced law in Chicago with the law firm Sidley & Austin before entering academia.


BA, University of Iowa
JD, University of Chicago
PhD, University of Iowa

Courses Taught

  • Bankruptcy
  • Feminist Jurisprudence
  • Law, Literature & Feminism
  • Secured Transactions


  • In Contempt: Nineteenth-Century Women, Law, and Literature (Ohio State University Press, 2012) (paperback edition issued in 2015)
  • “Legal Participatory Action Research: Community Approaches to Legal Issues,” Invited Speaker, Centre for Social Justice and Community Action, University of Durham, England, 2016
  • Dodging the Debt Trap: What You Should Know About Payday, Car Title, and Student Loans, November 2015 (conference organizer)
  • “Legal Participatory Action Research: Community-Based Initiatives on Intimate Partner Abuse,” Invited
  • Speaker, Fifth Action Research Colloquium, University College Dublin, Ireland, 2015
  • Private Violence: City of Cincinnati Summit on Domestic Violence, 2014 (conference organizer)
  • “Women, Law, and Literature,” Invited Speaker, Des Moines Women’s Club, Des Moines, Iowa, 2014
  • “From Wuthering Heights to Our Own West End: Women’s Writing/Women’s Advocacy,” Harold C. Schott Scholarship Award Lecture, University of Cincinnati, 2014
  • “Topics of Economic Justice,” Faculty Teach-In, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2014
  • “Law and Narrative: Readings of Stumped,” Invited Speaker, The Other Side of Reproductive Rights: The Untold Story and Ethics of Modern Eugenics,” S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah, 2014
  • “Participatory Action Research: A Practical Approach to Economic Justice,” Social Justice Feminism Conference, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2012
  • “Social Justice Feminism,” Invited Speaker, Rosenfield Program: “What Is Social Justice?” Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa, 2011
  • “Art and Intervention,” Law and Society Association, San Francisco, California, 2011 (program chair and discussant)
  • “Stumped: A Law and Literature Interpretation,” Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities, Las Vegas, Nevada, 2011
  • “A Fresh Start . . . Really?: Limitations on the Bankruptcy Discharge,” Cincinnati Bar Association, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2010
  • “Intersectionality in Action,” Critical Race Studies Symposium, UCLA School of Law, Los Angeles, California, 2010
  • "Social Justice Feminism: Principles and Methodologies," National Women's Studies Association Annual Conference, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2008
  • "Social Justice Feminism: Words, Movements, Theory, Practice," Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities, Berkeley, California, 2008
  • "Social Justice Feminism, Feminist Legal Theories and Feminisms Conference," University of Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland, 2008
  • "Bankruptcy Reform: Challenging Statutory Interpretations," Cincinnati Bar Association, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2007
  • "Social Justice Feminism: Historical Perspectives," Villanova University School of Law, Villanova, Pennsylvania, 2007
  • "Statutory Interpretation and the BAPCPA," Cincinnati Bar Association, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2006
  • "Still More Stories To Tell: Intimate Partner Abuse and Education," Keynote Address, Rape Crisis & Abuse Center Annual Meeting, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2006
  • "Barriers to Women's Financial Well-Being," Women's Leadership Conference, Oxford, England, 2006
  • "Bankruptcy Reform and the Financial Well-Being of Women," St. Louis University School of Law, St. Louis, Missouri, 2006
  • "Critical Perspectives on Commercial Law and Bankruptcy: A Re-Envisioned Reform Agenda," Tenth Annual Latcrit Conference, Puerto Rico, 2005
  • "A Mock Trial: State of Ohio v. Margaret Garner," Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2005 (moderator)
  • "Bankruptcy Reform and Consumer Protection: How Gender Matters In Money Matters," University of Iowa, Invited Speaker Series, Iowa City, Iowa, 2005
  • "An Intersectional Analysis of Bankruptcy Reform," Chicago-Kent College of Law, Chicago, Illinois, 2005
  • "Sex, Lies, and the Bankruptcy Code," Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities, Austin, Texas, 2005
  • "Law, Literature, and Libel: Victorian Censorship of ‘Dirty Filthy' Books on Birth Control, Law and Society Association," Chicago, Illinois, 2004
  • "Looking For Law in All the ‘Wrong' Places: Outlaw Texts and Early Women's Advocacy," Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities, Hartford, Connecticut, 2004
  • "Outlaw Texts and Narrative Advocacy," Brigham Young University College of Law, Provo, Utah, 2003
  • "Women's Legal Herstories: Nineteenth-Century Publication of Private Wrongs," Subversive Legacies: Learning From History/Constructing the Future, University of Texas School of Law, Austin, Texas, 2002
  • "Outlaw Texts: Nineteenth-Century Novels That Don't Police," Law and Society Association, Vancouver, British Columbia, 2002
  • "To Say the Least": Keynotes of Feminism in Victorial Short Stories, Midwest Modern Language Association, Kansas City, Missouri, 2000 (session organizer and discussant)
  • "Feminist Jurisprudence: A ‘Novel' Approach to Law and Literature," Law and Society Association, Chicago, Illinois, 1999
  • "‘Delicate Matters For Mothers Alone': Family Planning in Jane Clapperton's Margaret Dunmore: or, A Socialist Home, Dickens Project Winter Conference, University of California, Riverside, 1998
  • "The Spectacle of White Queens: A Cross-Examination of Women, Law, Power, and Empire," Victorian Studies Association of Western Canada, University of Northern British Columbia, St. George, British Columbia, 1997
  • "In Defense of ‘Murderous Mothers': Feminist Jurisprudence in Frances Trollope's Jessie Phillips: A Tale of the Present Day, Midwest Modern Language Association, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1996
  • "The Wife's Lament: A Riddle of Her Own," Medieval Association of the Midwest, Northern Michigan University, Marquette, Michigan, 1995


  • 2016 Marian Spencer Diversity Ambassador Award, as Co-Director of the Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice, University of Cincinnati
  • 2012 Harold C. Schott Lecture Award
  • 2010 Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching
  • 2003 Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching
  • 2000 Best Published Essay Prize, University of Iowa
  • 1999-2000 Woodrow Wilson Award
  • The AAUW American Fellowship 1999-2000
  • Ballard Fellowship, Dissertation-Year Ward, 1999-2000
  • 1999 Walter L. Arnstein Prize for Dissertation Research in Victorian Studies, Midwest Victorian Studies Association
  • 1998 John Gerber Teaching Award, University of Iowa
  • 1996 Midwest Women's Caucus Distinguished Paper Award