The Crimes of Womanhood

The Crimes of Womanhood : Defining Femininity in a Court of Law

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Cultural views of femininity exerted a powerful influence on the courtroom arguments used to defend or condemn notable women on trial in nineteenth-century and early-twentieth-century America. A. Cheree Carlson analyzes the colorful rhetorical strategies employed by lawyers and reporters in the trials of several women of varying historical stature, from the insanity trials of Mary Todd Lincoln and Lizzie Borden's trial for the brutal slaying of her father and stepmother, to lesser-known trials involving insanity, infidelity, murder, abortion, and interracial marriage. Carlson reveals clearly just how narrow was the line that women had to walk, since the same womanly virtues that were expected of them--passivity, frailty, and purity--could be turned against them at any time. With gripping retellings and incisive analysis, this book will appeal to historians, rhetoricians, feminist researchers, and anyone who enjoys courtroom more

Product details

  • Paperback | 200 pages
  • 152.4 x 223.52 x 15.24mm | 317.51g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0252080025
  • 9780252080029
  • 1,735,091

Review quote

"A provocative, well-written, and illuminating work."--The Journal of American History "Engaging, informative, and concise accounts of these complicated trials."--H-Law "[An] innovative study. . . . [Carlson's] careful analysis of the impact of these gendered narratives on the outcome of the cases provides a valuable contribution to the discussion of why law fails to embody the gender neutrality it often idealizes. Recommended."--Choiceshow more

About A. Cheree Carlson

A. Cheree Carlson is a professor in the School of Letters and Sciences at Arizona State University, where she is also affiliated with the women's studies more

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