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Vol 21 No 11 Nov/Dec 2016

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Women, Crime, and Character: From Moll Flanders to Tess of the D'Urbervilles


ISBN13: 9780199544363
Published: August 2008
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Country of Publication: UK
Format: Hardback
Price: £25.49



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In the early 18th Century, Daniel Defoe found it natural to write a novel whose heroine was a sexually adventurous, socially marginal property offender. Only half a century later, this would have been next to unthinkable. Lacey explores the disappearance of Moll, and her supercession in the annals of literary female offenders by heroines like Tess, serving as a metaphor for fundamental changes in ideas of selfhood, gender and social order in 18th and 19th Century England. Drawing on law, literature, philosophy and social history, she argues that these broad changes underpinned a radical shift in mechanisms of responsibility-attribution, with decisive implications for the criminalisation of women.

This book examines how the treatment and understanding of female criminality was changing during the era which saw the construction of the main building blocks of the modern criminal process, and of how these understandings related in turn to broader ideas about gender, social order and individual agency. Lacey tells the story of the shifting relationship between informal codes of norms such as the 'cult of sensibility' and the formal system of criminal justice, and of the impact on women and on understandings of femininity of these complementary systems of discipline. By drawing on a wide variety of sources, it casts light into corners which remain obscure in accounts informed by a single discipline.

  • Provides an illuminating interdisciplinary analysis of the development of ideas of criminality and women's role in society
  • A distinctive contribution to the current movement to analyse literary sources in relation to social attitudes and legal shifts
  • Lively and readable argument interweaves contemporary trial evidence with well-known fictional portrayals

Subjects:
Legal History
Contents:
Preface
I. Don't go to murder my character: criminal responsibility in the age of Moll Flanders;
II. What is the use of a woman's will?: the demise of Moll in the age of sensibility
III. The weaker half of the human family?: responsibility, mind and morals in the age of Tess
Bibliography

Series: Clarendon Law Lectures

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State Liability: Tort Law and Beyond ISBN 9780199272648
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Intellectual Property: Omnipresent, Distracting, Irrelevant?
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Roman Law, Contemporary Law, European Law: The Civilian Tradition Today
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Change and Continuity: Statute, Equity and Federalism ISBN 9780198298236
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The Law's Two Bodies ISBN 9780199245185
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The Practice of Principle: In Defence of a Pragmatist Approach to Legal Theory
Jules ColemanWesley Newcomb Hohfeld Professor of Jurisprudence and Philosophy, Yale University, USA
ISBN 9780198298144
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Economic Torts
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Law and Legal Theory in the UK and USA
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