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NCJ Number: 157436 Find in a Library
Title: Dangerous Familiars: Representations of Domestic Crime in England, 1550-1700
Author(s): F E Dolan
Date Published: 1994
Page Count: 266
Sponsoring Agency: Cornell University Press
Ithaca, NY 14851
Publication Number: ISBN 0-8014-2901-3
Sale Source: Cornell University Press
512 E. State Street
P.O. Box 250
Ithaca, NY 14851
United States of America
Type: Historical Overview
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Based on a survey of trial transcripts, confessions, and gallows speeches, as well as pamphlets, ballads, popular plays based on notorious crimes, and Shakepeare's plays, this book examines the nature of and explanations for domestic murder in England from 1550 through 1700.
Abstract: The first chapter examines legal and popular representations of husband-murder, which was defined as "petty treason," which was a crime against civil authority. The author argues that the fictions in the courtroom, on the stage, and on the street attempted to restore the order threatened by wifely insubordination. The second chapter continues the discussion of petty treason, extending it to the relations between masters and servants. It investigates the likeness between the two kinds of dependents, wives and servants, and the two kinds of petty treason, husband-killing and master-killing, examining how legal and literary narratives of petty treason worked to subordinate the story of the rebellious dependent within social and literary structures. Around mid-century, pamphlets and ballads shifted their focus from insubordinate dependents to the murderous husband, depicting his abuse of authority as petty tyranny. The third chapter traces how this relocation of domestic threat corresponds to the suspicion and circumscription of authority that builds from the Civil War, through the Restoration, to the 1688 Revolution. The fourth chapter focuses on how dramatizations of infanticide and infant abandonment participated in a complex cultural process that displaced blame for abuse and neglect of children onto poor, unmarried women. The final chapter examines witchcraft as another kind of domestic crime, as it shows how the tensions within families, especially stepfamilies, could be displaced and negotiated through accusations of witchcraft. Chapter footnotes and a subject index
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Crime in foreign countries; Domestic relations; England; Family homicide; Family offenses; Filial violence; Infanticide
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