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Narrating Transgression

Representations of the Criminal in Early Modern England


Rosamaria Loretelli and Roberto De Romanis

Crime and the criminal are amongst the outstanding discourses of late seventeenth and eighteenth-century English written culture, a subject to be found in ballads, sermons, biographies, case histories, dying speeches, newspaper articles, accounts of trials, Newgate Ordinary reports, paintings and etchings, poems, comedies and novels. It is this printed material that the essays in the present collection approach, somewhat obliquely, searching for hidden meanings and unavowed aims. The result is an opening up of new perspectives: not only on the various attitudes towards particular crimes and particular types of criminal - such as thieves, 'sodomites' and prostitutes - but also on cultural control as enacted by the various literary and visual genres. New insights are achieved into seventeenth and eighteenth-century mentalities, into perception of the marginal, and into the very idea of the human being.
Contents: Michael Harris: Murder in print: representations of crime and the law c. 1660-1760 - Rosamaria Loretelli: Trial by cheap print - Roberto De Romanis: Camouflaged identities, criminal writings - Lennard J. Davis: Criminal statements. Homosexuality and textuality in the account of Jan Svilt - Ruth Perry: Good girls and fallen women: representations of prostitutes in eighteenth-century English fiction - Janet Todd: The German Princess: criminalities of gender and class - Franco Marenco: The invention of the enemy. Expansionism and the ideology of exclusion in early seventeenth-century England - Ian A. Bell: Postcards of the hanging. The representation of crime in William Hogarth's Industry and Idleness - Marinella Salari: Criminal voices from beyond the grave.