Women and the Law in Twentieth-Century Literature
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: The University of Akron Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
A number of scholars have lent me time, advice, and sources over the years, including Janet Beer, Susan Castillo, Martin Kayman, Ian Scott, Jacquie Berben-Masi, Annette Bennington-McElhiney, Dianne Dutton, Monika Fludernik, and Greta Olson. I would like to thank Vivien Hughes and Michael Hellyer (retired) at the Canadian High Commission. Some of the research for this book has been made possible through the generous assistance of the Canadian government's Faculty Research Program....
Introduction. Literature, Law, and Desire
To the extent that law itself is a narrative, it cannot only be the accumulated record of issues resolved through application of law to facts by a neutral decision maker. By recognizing the tinted narrative lens, we can understand how law reinforces the views of the powerful through the continual retelling of stories from the dominant perspective.1 This book emerges out of the recognition that women's literature and literature about women seem insistently to revisit questions of the law, the parameters of the court, and the regulation of desire. It is not based on whether the representations of the law in literature are accurate or truthful...
Chapter One. Prison, Passion, and the Female Gaze
Twentieth-century women writers engage in metaphorical rewritings of the panopticon, inserting explicit and implicit references to it within many of their novels on women and the law. Designed by Jeremy Bentham as an “inspection-house” and made famous by Michel Foucault's incisive reading of it, the panopticon is a place to set aside and observe the criminal, the damaged, or the subject who needs to be contained. Its central watchtower...
Chapter Two. Pursuit of Property: Neoslave Narratives and the Law
This chapter explores the way in which African American women have been historically viewed as “property.” Moreover, it explores the impact of constructions of race on women and the law, focusing specifically on neoslave narratives. The term “neoslave narrative” is credited to Bernard W. Bell, author...
Chapter Three. “Mother Knows Best”: Women, Children, and the Law
Legal stories about contested motherhood stretch as far back as biblical narratives and offer rich sources for twentieth-century texts: in just two examples, Bertholt Brecht updates the King Solomon dispute in his 1944 play, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, and Margaret Atwood rewrites the pact between...
Chapter Four. Staging the Scene: Women, Drama, and the Law
Pierre Bourdieu’s use of the word “actor” here is not accidental: it highlights the ways in which law courts and the stage have much in common and how each individual plays a role. It is in relation to the staging of guilt or innocence that the connection between these arenas becomes clearest. For example, drama...
Chapter Five. Spectacular Expectations: Women, Film, and the Law
The relation between women and the law is insistently explored in film and television serials. Indeed, in general terms, the law and film link is perhaps even more apparent than the law-literature connection. Mainstream cinema offers summer blockbusters by John Grisham and Scott Turow, social-conscience films about the law,...
Conclusion. Courting Success
Just as the title Courting Failure conjures up a host of meanings, so, too, does the title of this conclusion, “Courting Success.” It suggests not a final accomplishment, but a process, and signals at least an optimistic stance toward the future. Throughout this book, I have explored a myriad of issues to do with women and the law, reading real-life trials against fictional texts (and vice versa) and closely reading the responses to women's perceived femininity. In many places, these readings offer uncomfortable examples of women's pain and unfairly differentiated treatment before the courts....
Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2007