Adrienne Davis


Adrienne Davis

William M. Van Cleve Professor of Law; Vice Provost of the University


B.A., 1987, Yale College
J.D.,1991, Yale Law School

Curriculum Vitae



Vice Provost Assistant

Gail Boker - (314) 935-6458

Faculty Assistant

Rachel Mance - (314) 935-6403

Phone / Email

Phone: (314) 935-8583


Anheuser-Busch Hall, Room 552

Courses Taught

Trusts & Estates
Law & Literature
Feminist Theory


Professor Adrienne Davis is renowned for her scholarship and teaching on gender and race relations; theories of justice and reparations; feminist legal theory; and law and popular culture. She has written extensively on the gendered and private law dimensions of American slavery and is the co-editor of the book, Privilege Revealed: How Invisible Preference Undermines America (NYU Press), as well as numerous articles and book chapters. A Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians, Professor Davis directs the Black Sexual Economies Project at the law school’s Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Work and Social Capital. She also founded and runs the Law & Culture Initiative. Professor Davis is the past recipient of a Bellagio Fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation and two research grants from the Ford Foundation on such topics as black women and labor, and women, slavery, sexuality, and religion. In addition to her research and teaching, she is past chair of the Law and Humanities Section of the Association of American Law Schools and served on the editorial boards of several prestigious journals. Professor Davis clerked for the Hon. A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Projects and Initiatives

[view] Black Sexual Economies Project

[view] Law, Identity & Culture Initiative (LIC)


Representative Publications

Recent Articles and Book Chapters

  • "Regulating Sex Work: Assimilationism, Erotic Exceptionalism and the Challenge of Intimate Labor," 103 California Law Review [SSRN]
  • "Bad Girls of Art & Law: Abjection, Power & Sexuality Exceptionalism in (Kara Walker's) Art and (Janet Halley's) Law," 23 Yale Journal of Law & Feminism 1 (2011) [SSRN
  • "Regulating Polygamy: Intimacy, Default Rules, and Bargaining for Equality," 110 Columbia Law Review 1955 (2010) [SSRN]
  • "Historic and Modern Social Movements for Reparations: The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA) and Its Antecedents," (with A.A. Aiyetoro)," 16 Texas Wesleyan Law Review 687 (2010) (Symposium on Lawyers of Color) [SSRN
  • "Making Up is Hard to Do: An Epistolary Exchange on Race, Gender & Sexual Orientation in the Law School Classroom," (with R. Chang), 33 Harvard Journal of Gender and Law 1 (2010) [SSRN
  • "The 'Sexual Economy' of American Slavery," Still Brave: The Evolution of Black Women’s Studies (reprint) (eds. S.M. James, F.S. Foster, & B. Guy-Sheftall), The Feminist Press, CUNY (2009)

Recent Review and Other Essays

  • "Three Snapshots of Scholarly Engagement: Catharine MacKinnon's Ethical Entrenchment, Transformative Politics, and Personal Commitment," 47 Tulsa Law Review (2011) 
  • "Erotic Entitlements Part I: A Reply to Sex Therapy in the Age of Viagra: 'Money Can't Buy Me Love,'" 35 Washington University Journal of Law & Policy 421 (2011)
  • Masculinity & Interracial Intimacy in Star Trek and Gran Torino, 32 New Political Science 163 (2010) [SSRN
  • Introduction: Symposium on The Politics of Identity After Identity Politics 33 Washington University Journal of Law & Policy 1 (2010) [PDF]
  • "Introduction to the Symposium: Mass Incarceration and Masculinity through a Black Feminist Lens" (with Annette Appell),  37 Washington University Journal of Law & Policy 1 (2011) [PDF]

Other Representative Scholarship – Articles and Books Chapters

  • "Slavery and the Roots of Sexual Harassment," Directions in Sexual Harassment (eds. C. MacKinnon & R. Siegel), Yale University Press (2003) [PDF]
  • "Don’t Let Nobody Bother Yo' Principle: The Sexual Economy of American Slavery," Sister Circle: Black Women and Work (ed. S. Harley), Rutgers University Press (2002) [PDF]

Working Papers

  • "Leash Life: Toward a Theory and Doctrine of Pet Inheritance"
  • "Re-Thinking Interracial Intimacy"
  • "The Jurisprudence & Justice of Reparations"
  • "From Pancakes to Broadway: Managing Women, the Care Crisis, and Economic Personality in Imitation of Life"

Recent Activities

  • Served as the John Hope Franklin Visiting Professor of American Legal History, Duke Law School, fall 2013
  • Presented "Slavery: Beyond the Pure Property Paradigm," Annual Robert R. Wilson Lecture, Duke University