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Josephine McDonagh examines the concept of child murder in British culture in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by analyzing texts drawn from economics, philosophy, law, and medicine, as well as literature. McDonagh highlights the ways in which child murder echoes and reverberates in a variety of cultural debates and social practices. She traces a trajectory from Swift's A Modest Proposal through the debates on the New Woman at the turn of the twentieth century by way of Burke, Wordsworth, Wollstonecraft, George Eliot, George Egerton, and Thomas Hardy, among others.Read more
- Examines the contentious and topical theme of child murder
- Covers a broad range of writers, from Swift to Hardy, via Burke, Wollstonecraft and George Eliot
- Lucid and accessibly written
Reviews & endorsements
"What impresses most of all (quite apart from the delight of witnessing her deft deployment of all kinds of fascinating circumstantial details), is the way in which she demonstrates that 'child murder carries out its effects not only within a designated moment, but also over time.' This is an important study not just because of its careful tracing of the many ramifications of this emotive (and emotively deployed) theme over two centuries, but also because it offers an exemplary account of how we might go about studying the complex phenomenon of cultural transmission." Kate Flint, Studies in English LiteratureSee more reviews
"Josephine McDonagh's book is fascinating, extensive and thorough study of child murder bound to appeal to cultural and literary scholars."
Sophia Andrews, Victorian Periodicals Review
"Child Murder and British Culture is a richly detailed and frequently original account of a series of texts."
Laura C. Berry, University of Arizona
"One of the singular accomplishments of this volume is that McDonagh has focused her attention on the consumers of these literary works and philosophical treatises, speculating on the likely transformative effect that engagement with these motifs could produce." Eighteent-Century Fiction Joel Peter Eigen, Franklin and Marshall College
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- Date Published: January 2008
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9780521054560
- length: 296 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 152 x 17 mm
- weight: 0.44kg
- contains: 6 b/w illus.
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
List of illustrations
Note on references
List of abbreviations
Introduction: plots and protagonists
1. Child murder and commercial society in the early eighteenth century
2. 'A squeeze in the neck for bastards': the uncivilised spectacle of child-killing in the 1770s and 1780s
3. 1789/1803: Martha Ray, the mob, and Malthus's Mistress of the Feast
4. 'Bright and countless everywhere': the New Poor Law and the politics of prolific reproduction in 1839
5. 'A nation of infanticides': child murder and the national forgetting in Adam Bede
6. Wragg's daughters: child murder towards the fin de siècle
7. English babies and Irish changelings
Appendix: on the identity of 'Marcus'
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