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Author Cossins, Anne, author

Title Female criminality : infanticide, moral panics and the female body / Annie Cossins
Published Basingstoke, Hampshire : Palgrave Macmillan, 2015
Online access available from:
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Description 1 online resource
Contents 1. Introduction: 'Dumb Brutes' and Murderous Mothers -- 2. The Moral Panic Concept: Its History, Social Utility and Ability to Interpret Past Events -- 3. Regulation of the Female Body: Was Infanticide a Moral Panic of the 1800s? -- 4. The Moral Regulation of Infanticidal Mothers -- 5. The Implications of the Body for Female Criminality
Summary This book considers one of the main crimes with which women are associated, infanticide and child murder. Beginning its journey in the nineteenth century, the book interrogates the history of a little-known, widespread social crime to inform the present, interrogating the historical laws governing illegitimacy and infanticide as a form of moral regulation and the role of the sexed female body in justifying those laws. Female Criminality analyses the relationships between men and women, the working and middle classes, the medical establishment, media, and judges, juries and convicts, to extend the social utility of the moral panic concept by providing a causal foundation for the occurrence of moral panics. Crucially, it identifies that the 'folk devil', the subject of Britain's first moral panic concerning children, was a sexed body whose qualities were so monstrous and hellish that the image of the heartless, evil woman who can turn her hand to murder was cemented into public consciousness. So much so, the 'folk devil' became the favourite subject of psychiatry and other medical disciplines and was used by prosecutors to influence the (wrongful) convictions of mothers accused of multiple infant-murder. Exploring how cultural values attributed to the female body are still associated with mothers who commit infanticide and multiple infant deaths in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, this book will appeal to scholars of Criminology, Law, History and Gender Studies
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references
Notes Description based on print version record
Subject Crime -- Great Britain -- Sociological aspects.
Female offenders -- Great Britain -- History.
Infanticide -- Great Britain -- History.
Moral panics -- Great Britain -- History.
Women -- Great Britain -- Conduct of life -- History.
Genre/Form History.
Form Electronic book
ISBN 1137299428 (electronic bk)
9781137299420 (electronic bk)