Karen Pearlston



Law, Faculty of

Room 206


1 506 453 4523


Karen Pearlston has taught at UNB Law, University of New Brunswick since 2001. She completed her PhD dissertation At the Limits of Coverture: Judicial Imagination and Women’s Agency in the English Common Law at Osgoode Hall Law School in 2008, under the supervision of Douglas Hay. Her research and teaching interests include English and Canadian legal history, history of women, gender, and the family, family law, tort law, feminist theory, reproductive justice, and gender and sexuality studies.

Karen has a long history of social justice activism that informs her teaching and research. She is co-editor of the national family law casebook, Mary Jane Mossman, Natasha Bakht, Vanessa Gruben, Karen Pearlston, eds, Families and the Law: Cases and Commentary, 2nd ed, Captus Press, 2019). Her current research focus is lesbian legal history, and she has a continuing interest in family law in the 20th and 21st-centuries with particular attention to issues affecting marginalized people.


“‘Something More’: The State’s Place in the Bedrooms of Lesbian Nation,” in No Place for the State: The Origins and Legacies of the 1969 Omnibus Bill, eds. Christabelle Sethna and Christopher Dummitt (Forthcoming UBC Press, 2020).

Avoiding the Vulva: Judicial Interpretations of Lesbian Sex Under the Divorce Act, 1968” (2017) 32 Canadian Journal of Law and Society 37-53.

“Male Violence, Marital Unity, and the History of the Interspousal Tort Immunity” (2015) 36 Journal of Legal History 260-298.

“Equality & Incrementalism: The Role of Common Law Reasoning in Constitutional Rights Cases after Bedford (ONCA)” (2013) 44 Ottawa Law Review 467-506 (with Jula Hughes & Vanessa MacDonnell).

“What a Feme Sole Trader Could Not Do: Lord Mansfield on the Limits of a Married Woman’s Commercial Freedom,” in Kim Kippen and Lori Woods, eds, Worth and Repute: Valuing Gender in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe (Toronto: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2010).

“Married Women Bankrupts in the Age of Coverture” (2009) 34 Law and Social Inquiry, 265-299.