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Dangerous Familiars: Representations of Domestic Crime in England, 1550-1700 (Hardback)
  • Dangerous Familiars: Representations of Domestic Crime in England, 1550-1700 (Hardback)
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Dangerous Familiars: Representations of Domestic Crime in England, 1550-1700 (Hardback)

(author)
£72.00
Hardback 272 Pages / Published: 12/04/1994
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Looking back at images of violence in the popular culture of early modern England, we find that the specter of the murderer loomed most vividly not in the stranger, but in the familiar; and not in the master, husband, or father, but in the servant, wife, or mother. A gripping exploration of seventeenth-century accounts of domestic murder in fact and fiction, this book is the first to ask why.

Frances E. Dolan examines stories ranging from the profoundly disturbing to the comically macabre: of husband murder, wife murder, infanticide, and witchcraft. She surveys trial transcripts, confessions, and scaffold speeches, as well as pamphlets, ballads, popular plays based on notorious crimes, and such well-known works as The Tempest, Othello, Macbeth, and The Winter's Tale. Citing contemporary analogies between the politics of household and commonwealth, she shows how both legal and literary narratives attempt to restore the order threatened by insubordinate dependents.

Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 9780801429019
Number of pages: 272
Weight: 539 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 22 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"Dolan's later chapters, showing her characteristic sensitivity to language and historical context, are based on . . . careful balancing of canonical and noncanonical texts. . . . Dolan's epilogue provides a fitting, perceptive, conclusion."-David Underdown, Renaissance Quarterly

"Dangerous Familiars is of more than merely antiquarian interest. Dolan's analysis of the social pressures motivating the production of pamphlets, ballads, and plays, which spread the 'news' of domestic crime in the 1590s, for example, raises intriguing questions about the modes of cultural dissemination that bring us high-tech 'gavel to gavel' coverage of courtroom dramas. Equally relevant to contemporary cultural criticism is her careful unraveling of the complex articulations of gender, race, and class, that inform such cultural productions."-Natasha Korda, MLN


"Dangerous Familiars is an intriguing and provocative analysis of sixteenth-century English life that utilizes literary texts in the context of societal theory. Dolan succeeds in developing her argument that these representations of domestic crime provide a profound insight into the 'intimate' or 'common' view of women and children."-William T. Walker, Sixteenth Century Journal


"Dangerous Familiars is a richly textured book that opens up a variety of texts and places them in a complex historical perspective. Dolan's main argument is that the 'familiar' in early modern discourse was frequently construed as a prime source of danger to those within the domestic circle.We may think first of the witch's putative companion in evil, but Dolan, while she devotes her final chapter to witchcraft, wants also to remind us that common and everyday familiars had their pressing dangers-in the form, for example, of tyrannical masters, rebellious household servants, and murderous wives, husbands, or parents. Fear and anxiety about the known rather than the unknown is her theme. Her focus is on violent crime, more precisely on the representation of such crime, whether it appears in legal documents and statutes, ballads, broadsides and pamphlets (the tabloids of their time), learned discourse, or drama."-Anthony B. Dawson, Shakespeare Quarterly


"In this brilliant andinnovative book, Frances Dolan argues that the home was no more a refuge from violence in early modern England than it is in twentieth-century North America. Dolan considers not only textual representations of domestic violence but also visual materials, notably the woodcuts included on pamphlet title pages to advertise the sensational wares within."-Margaret W. Ferguson, Modern Philology

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