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Women's Criminality in Europe, 1600–1914


Sanne Muurling, Marion Pluskota, Manon van der Heijden, Jo Turner, Sara Beam, Lucy Williams, Barry Godfrey, Helen Johnston, David J. Cox, Alana Piper, Catrien Bijleveld, Susan Dennison, Jonathan de Bruin, Sarah Auspert, Margo de Koster, Veerle Massin, Daniel J. R. Grey, Clare Wilkinson
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  • Date Published: January 2020
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108477710

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About the Authors
  • Bringing together the most current research on the relationship between crime and gender in the West between 1600 and 1914, this authoritative volume places female criminality within its everyday context. It reveals how their socio-economic and cultural contexts provided women with 'agency' against a range of European backdrops, despite a fundamentally patriarchal criminal justice system, and includes in-depth analysis of original sources to show how changing living standards, employment, schooling and welfare arrangements had a direct impact on the quality of life of working class women, their risk of becoming involved in crime, and the likelihood of being prosecuted for it. Rather than treating women's criminality as always exceptional, this study draws out the similarities between female and male criminality, demonstrating how an understanding of specific cultural and socio-economic contexts is essential to explain female criminality, both why their criminal patterns changed, and how their crimes were represented by contemporaries.

    • Treats female criminality on its own terms rather than as always exceptional
    • Offers a broad Western geographical scope to reveal differences and similarities across the Western world
    • Provides a long-term perspective, connecting scholarship on the early modern and modern periods
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'A welcome contribution to the historiography of female criminality, and the influence that gender played in European criminal justice systems. It brings together some of the foremost scholars in the field and provides both depth and breadth. Broader analyses of space and place are complemented by closer examinations of policy and representation.' Heather Shore, Leeds Beckett University

    'This stimulating volume questions common assumptions about the qualities and quantities of female criminality. The astonishing array of female recidivists, women who used the law of pragmatic reasons, urban-dwellers who gained independence but also precarity, and transgressors of feminine norms who ended up in workhouses, lunatic asylums, and refuges are brought to the fore in all their variety and multiple meanings.' Katherine Crawford, Vanderbilt University, Nashville

    'This volume of collected essays sets out to reexamine the intersections of gender and criminality while challenging dominant assumptions about women's passivity, innocence, and victimhood … Recommended.' J. Werner, Choice

    '… most valuable contributions is the bibliography which will no doubt prove an important resource for students and scholars alike. The editors, Manon van der Heijden in particular, have done a very good job situating the debates in terms of modern scholarship on women's roles in the labour force and society. It is another well-placed and necessary attack on simplistic applications of the ideology of 'separate spheres' as a way to 'explain' women who commit crimes. This is very useful for those studying gender and women.' Karen A. Macfarlane, H-Soz-Kult

    '… Women's Criminality in Europe, 1600-1914 adds ably to a growing literature …' Russ Immarigeon, Rutgers: Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books

    'Scholars of women and crime, imprisonment and reoffending, newspaper reporting, and the multiple factors that influenced these matters will find much of interest and value.' Katherine D. Watson, The Journal of Interdisciplinary History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2020
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108477710
    • length: 270 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.52kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: women and crime in history Sanne Muurling, Marion Pluskota and Manon van der Heijden
    2. Explaining crime and gender in Europe between 1600 and 1900 Manon van der Heijden
    Part I. Violence, Space and Gender:
    3. Women, violence and the uses of justice before the Criminal Court of early modern Bologna Sanne Muurling
    4. The 'vanishing' female perpetrator of common assault Jo Turner
    Part II. Prosecution and Punishment:
    5. Gender and the prosecution of adultery in Geneva, 1550–1700 Sara Beam
    6. 'Find the lady': tracing and describing the incarcerated female population of London in 1881 Lucy Williams and Barry Godfrey
    7. Gender and release from imprisonment: convict licensing systems in mid- to late-nineteenth-century England Helen Johnston and David J. Cox
    8. Female and male prisoners in Queensland 1880–1899: re-entry, risk factors, recidivism Alana Piper, Catrien Bijleveld, Susan Dennison and Jonathan de Bruin
    Part III. Representation of Crime:
    9. Girls, young women and crime: perceptions, realities and responses in a long-term perspective Sarah Auspert, Margo de Koster and Veerle Massin
    10. 'Monstrous and indefensible'? Newspaper accounts of sexual assaults on children in nineteenth-century England and Wales Daniel J. R. Grey
    11. Gender and Dutch newspaper reports of intimate violence, 1880–1910 Clare Wilkinson.

  • Editors

    Manon van der Heijden, Universiteit Leiden
    Manon van der Heijden is Professor of Comparative Urban History at Universiteit Leiden. Her research interests include crime and justice, marriage and the family, urban finances and public services. In 2012, she was granted a NWO VICI project Crime and Gender 1600–1900. She is a member of the Academia Europaea and author of Women and Crime in Early Modern Holland (2016).

    Marion Pluskota, Universiteit Leiden
    Marion Pluskota is Assistant Professor in Social History at Universiteit Leiden. She has published extensively on prostitution and criminality in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. She is the author of Prostitution and Social Control in Eighteenth-Century Port (2015).

    Sanne Muurling, Universiteit Leiden
    Sanne Muurling recently completed her Ph.D. at Universiteit Leiden with a dissertation on everyday crime and gender in early modern Bologna, Italy. Her research focuses on the social history of everyday life, including crime and deviance, single motherhood, welfare institutions, poverty and living culture.


    Sanne Muurling, Marion Pluskota, Manon van der Heijden, Jo Turner, Sara Beam, Lucy Williams, Barry Godfrey, Helen Johnston, David J. Cox, Alana Piper, Catrien Bijleveld, Susan Dennison, Jonathan de Bruin, Sarah Auspert, Margo de Koster, Veerle Massin, Daniel J. R. Grey, Clare Wilkinson

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