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The New Woman Criminal in British Culture at the Fin de Siècle

Elizabeth Carolyn Miller

Publisher: University of Michigan Press
Imprint: University of Michigan Press
Published: 01/2008
Pages: 296
Subject: Literary Criticism - European/English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Social Science - Women's Studies
Print ISBN: 9780472050444
eBook ISBN: 9780472900473


Framed uses fin de si�cle British crime narrative to pose a highly interesting question: why do female criminal characters tend to be alluring and appealing while fictional male criminals of the era are unsympathetic or even grotesque?

In this elegantly argued study, Elizabeth Carolyn Miller addresses this question, examining popular literary and cinematic culture from roughly 1880 to 1914 to shed light on an otherwise overlooked social and cultural type: the conspicuously glamorous New Woman criminal. In so doing, she breaks with the many Foucauldian studies of crime to emphasize the genuinely subversive aspects of these popular female figures. Drawing on a rich body of archival material, Miller argues that the New Woman Criminal exploited iconic elements of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century commodity culture, including cosmetics and clothing, to fashion an illicit identity that enabled her to subvert legal authority in both the public and the private spheres.


"Given the intellectual adventurousness of these chapters, the rich material that the author has brought to bear, and its combination of archival depth and disciplinary range, any reader of this remarkable book will be amply rewarded."
—Jonathan Freedman, Professor of English and American Culture, University of Michigan