Child Murder and British Culture, 1720-1900

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In this wide-ranging study, Josephine McDonagh examines the idea of child murder in British culture in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Analysing texts drawn from economics, philosophy, law, medicine as well as from literature, McDonagh highlights the manifold ways in which child murder echoes and reverberates in a variety of cultural debates and social practices. She places literary works within social, political and cultural contexts, including debates on luxury, penal reform campaigns, slavery, the treatment of the poor, and birth control. She traces a trajectory from Swift’s A Modest Proposal through to the debates on the New Woman at the turn of the twentieth century by way of Burke, Wordsworth, Wollstonecraft, George Eliot, George Egerton, and Thomas Hardy, among others. McDonagh demonstrates the haunting persistence of the notion of child murder within British culture in a volume that will be of interest to cultural and literary scholars alike.
 

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Contents

Child murder and commercial society in the early eighteenth century
16
Two kinds of killing in Swifts A Modest Proposal
20
Mandevilles Fable of the Bees
26
the aesthetics of child murder
31
A Squeeze in the Neck for Bastards the uncivilised spectacle of childkilling in the 1770s and 1780s
37
Child murder and primitive man in the Scottish Enlightenment
40
Child murder on the world stage
47
The good mother republican maternity and slavery in Raynal More Barbauld and Yearsley
55
A nation of infanticides child murder and the national forgetting in Adam Bede
125
Memory and the nation
129
Remembering 1803 and 1839
134
Indian infanticide and the 1857 Uprising
139
Realism and repression in Adam Bede
147
culture and child murder
155
Wraggs daughters child murder towards the fin de siècle
158
Darwin and McLennan
162

The bad mother Cook Hawkesworth and the erotics of looking
61
17981803 Martha Ray the mob and Malthuss Mistress of the Feast
70
Wordsworths The Thorn
74
The French Revolution and the problems of women in Burke and Wollstonecraft
82
Malthuss Dame Nature and the mob
90
The 1803 Offences Against the Person Act
97
Bright and countless everywhere the New Poor Law and the politics of prolific reproduction in 1839
99
surplus population and the child death factory
103
Carlyle Chadwick and Bryan Procter
114
overproduction and overpopulation and the child death factory
118
Augusta Webster George Eliot and Amy Levy
166
Degeneration and the atavistic child murder in The Descents of Man and Culture and Anarchy
172
Annie Besant and the triumph of the queen bee
176
Child murder and the New Woman in Alans Wife and Jude the Obscurer
180
English babies and Irish changelings
186
On the identity of Marcus
199
Notes
201
Select bibliography
250
Index
275
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About the author (2003)

Josephine McDonagh is Reader in Romantic and Victorian Culture in the School of English and Humanities at Birkbeck College, University of London. She is the author of De Quincey's Disciplines (1994) and George Eliot (1997) and co-editor of Transactions and Encounters: Science and Culture in Nineteenth-Century Britain (2001).

Josephine McDonagh is Reader in Romantic and Victorian Culture in the School of English and Humanities at Birkbeck College, University of London. She is the author of De Quincey's Disciplines (1994) and George Eliot (1997) and co-editor of Transactions and Encounters: Science and Culture in Nineteenth-Century Britain (2001).

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