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Jennifer Jones’s intriguing book explores the legal, cultural, and dramatic representations of six accused murderesses to look at how English-speaking society responded to and controlled anxiety over female transgressions. The woman who kills, in particular, the woman who kills a member of her own family has not only broken the law, she has also violated gender expectations. Jones argues that dramatic representations of criminal women, especially women who kill, proliferate during times of heightened feminist activity and that theatrical narratives, as evidenced in plays, television, and film, serve to contain women and deflect attention away from issues of women’s systematic repression. Medea’s Daughters focuses on six women (of whom Lizzie Borden, Susan Smith, and Louise Woodward are the best known) whose murder trials caught the attention of their respective cultures. This broad spectrum allows an examination of how women’s legal status has evolved over five centuries.

Table of Contents

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  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication
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  1. Table of Contents
  2. p. vii
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. p. viii
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  1. Introduction: Female Offenders and Offensive Females
  2. pp. ix-xx
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  1. Chapter 1. Petty (T)reasons for Killing Her Lord and Master
  2. pp. 1-18
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  1. Chapter 2. Absence of (M)alice on the Victorian Stage
  2. pp. 19-38
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  1. Chapter 3. A Jury of Her Peers
  2. pp. 39-55
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  1. Chapter 4. Totaled Women: The Battered Wife Defense
  2. pp. 56-72
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  1. Chapter 5. Medea Returns
  2. pp. 73-87
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  1. Chapter 6. Narratives of Resistance
  2. pp. 88-100
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  1. Afterword: Andrea Yates
  2. pp. 101-102
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 103-111
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  1. Bibliography
  2. pp. 112-120
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 121-123
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