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The way deviant women - murderesses, witches, vampires - are perceived and represented reveals much about what a society considers the norm for acceptable female behaviour. Drawing on extensive archival records and published texts, Susanne Kord investigates the stories of eight famous murderesses in Germany as they were told in legal, psychological, philosophical and literary writings. Kord interrogates the role of representation in legal judgment and the way the emancipation of women was perceived to be linked to their crimes. She demonstrates how perceptions of normal and criminal women permeated not only legal thought but also seemingly unrelated cultural spheres - from poetry, philosophy and physiognomy to early psychological profiling. A major work of German cultural history, this highly original book raises thought-provoking questions about eighteenth- and nineteenth-century gender norms in ways that continue to resonate today.Read more
- An interdisciplinary study examining representations of gender in literature and in German culture
- Explores eight real-life murder or suspected witchcraft cases in detail
- Opens up new ways to study gender, violence and law in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Germany
Reviews & endorsements
"Summations have the somewhat artificial tendency to round off a book (and an analysis) that was charged to describe something multi-faceted. Susanne Kord has thus quite rightly chosen the form of the analytical essay. […] Eschewing generalizations and broad strokes, practicing the ‘non-unity of history’ (Hausen), Susanne Kord offers concise, thoughtful, and—in her treatment of scholarship—exceptionally masterful and stimulating insights into ideas about female deviance at the threshold of modernity. Her book inspires further discussion about the question to what extent modern penal systems can be understood as expressions of humaneness or rather […] as internalizations of social, moral and gender-constituting codes that should be resisted to this day."
-Dr Achim Saupe, Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung, PotsdamSee more reviews
"This smart and original book uses readings of many different kinds of texts to shed light on conceptions of gender in the German transition to modernity...Kord's vivid writing style enhances the book's appeal...This book is a notable exploration of the revealing underside of modern European culture."
-Joy Wiltenburg, H-German
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- Date Published: May 2009
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9780521519779
- length: 276 pages
- dimensions: 235 x 158 x 18 mm
- weight: 0.58kg
- availability: In stock
Table of Contents
1. Criminal women: on bodies, paradoxes, performances and tales
2. The evil eye: witches
3. The plague: vampires
4. Pride: husband-killers
5. Shame: child-killers
6. The female self: poisoners
7. The end: the etiquette of execution
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