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About Penelope J Pether

Penelope Pether is Professor of Law at Villanova University School of Law. Her scholarly interests focus on constitutional and comparative constitutional law; legal theory, including constitutional theory; common law legal institutions, judging practices, and professional subject formation, with a special emphasis on the U.S. Federal Courts; and interdisciplinary scholarship in law, literature and language. She is the co-author of Criminal Law: Cases, Materials, and Strategies (with Neil P. Cohen, David Crump, Laurie L. Levenson, and John Parry), was published by Lexis Publishing in 2005.
Professor Pether is Editor of SSRN/LSN's online abstracting journal, Law and Literature Abstracts; is a general editor of Law and Literature (University of California Press) and serves on the editorial advisory boards of Law and Critique (Springer) and Social Semiotics (Routledge). A member of the Executive Committee of the Criminal Justice Section of the AALS, she has recently accepted a three-year appointment to the AALS standing Committee on Bar Admission and Lawyer Performance. In 2010 she began a three year term on the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities Organizing Committee.
Professor Pether’s articles have been published in law reviews including Stanford Law Review, Washington & Lee Law Review, Cardozo Law Review, Arizona State Law Journal, Sydney Law Review and Adelaide Law Review; and in peer-reviewed journals including Law and Literature, Social Semiotics, the Journal of Law, Culture and the Humanities, and Law and Critique. Extracts from her widely-cited article, “Inequitable Injunctions: The Scandal of Private Judging in the U.S. Courts,” 56 Stanford Law Review 1435 (2004) have been selected for study by participants in the Yale Law School Seminar on Global Constitutionalism in September, 2007.
Professor Pether has spoken widely on subjects including legal pedagogy and subject formation; law, language, and gender; constitutional theory; law and literature; and poststructuralist legal theory. She gave a plenary address at the Association of American Law Schools Conference on New Ideas for Law School Teachers: Teaching Intentionally, held in Vancouver in June, 2006. She was an invited speaker at The Language of Judicial Opinions in Sexual Assault Trials Conference convened by the Sexual and Domestic Violence Project of the Center for Law and Social Responsibility at New England School of Law in March 2007; and in the Fall of 2007 will be an invited speaker at the Cardozo Law Review Symposium on Alain Badiou’s Being and Event; and the Quinnipiac Law Review Symposium Honoring Mark Tushnet.
Professor Pether is a General Editor of Law and Literature, a peer-reviewed journal published by the University of California Press, and serves in editorial advisory capacities for the peer-reviewed journals Law and Critique (Kluwer/Springer) and Social Semiotics (Routledge). She has recently been appointed Editor of Law and Literature Abstracts (SSSRN/LSN), and in 2008 will be a member of the Mezey Dissertation Prize Committee of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities.
Professor Pether holds undergraduate and law degrees and a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Sydney, where she was formerly an Assistant Lecturer in the Department of English and a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law. She has taught undergraduate and postgraduate courses as a visiting faculty member in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California-Irvine, and Law and Literature and Feminist Jurisprudence as a visiting faculty member at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University. In 2005 she joined the Villanova faculty from American University Washington College of Law where she was Professor of Law and Director of Legal Rhetoric.
After graduating from the University of Sydney Law School, Professor Pether worked as a solicitor in the Sydney office of Freehill, Hollingdale and Page; and then as Executive Assistant (Police), to the New South Wales Ombudsman, G.G. Masterman, Q.C. In 1997 she was appointed by the state government to the Operations Review Committee of the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption.


Present Professor of Law, Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law

Curriculum Vitae



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  • Constitutional Law II
  • Criminal Law
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Law and Literature
  • Comparative Constitutional Law

Contact Information



Articles (36)