Women, Crime and Character in Twentieth Century Law and Literature: In Search of the Modern Moll Flanders
40 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2018
Date Written: December 7, 2017
The twentieth century saw decisive changes in women’s legal, social, economic and political position. But how far have these changes been reflected in women’s position as subjects of criminalisation in the courts, in legal thought or in literary fiction? This paper takes up the story of the gradual marginalisation of criminal women in both legal and literary history, asking whether a criminal heroine such as Moll Flanders (1722) is thinkable again, and what this can tell us about conceptions of women as subjects of criminal law. How far do the conceptions of, and dilemmas about, female subjectivity, agency, capacity and character which emerge successively in 20th Century literary culture reflect and illuminate the relevant patterns and debates in criminal law and philosophy?
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