Criminal Conversations: Sentimentality and Nineteenth-Century Legal Stories of Adultery / Edition 1

Criminal Conversations: Sentimentality and Nineteenth-Century Legal Stories of Adultery / Edition 1

by Laura Hanft Korobkin
     
 

ISBN-10: 0231105088

ISBN-13: 9780231105088

Pub. Date: 01/28/1999

Publisher: Columbia University Press

Storytelling is an essential aspect of any legal case. But what kinds of stories win cases, and why? Criminal Conversations explores sentimentality as both a literary genre and a rhetorical strategy in the novels and courtrooms of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century America. By focusing on "criminal conversation"--the civil tort whereby a…  See more details below

Overview

Storytelling is an essential aspect of any legal case. But what kinds of stories win cases, and why? Criminal Conversations explores sentimentality as both a literary genre and a rhetorical strategy in the novels and courtrooms of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century America. By focusing on "criminal conversation"--the civil tort whereby a cuckold sues his wife's lover to for damages to his property rights from the adultery--Korobkin argues that literary discourse, used in the courtroom, affects the outcomes of legal cases. She shows how lawyers used sentimentality strategically to guide juries in reaching verdicts, and how appellate courts appropriated the rhetoric, plots, and characters of sentimental fiction to redefine husbands' and wives' marital obligations.Criminal Conversations begins by tracking the legal fictions that were part of the civil tort of adultery from its origins in the English Renaissance. Korobkin then examines in detail the final arguments at Henry Ward Beecher's sensational criminal conversation trial of 1874-1875. The final part of the book takes up a series of appellate decisions that decided whether women could bring criminal conversation cases against their husbands' female lovers. Drawing on court documents, as well as literary examples from E.D.E.N. Southworth, Mark Twain, T. S. Arthur, and others, Korobkin explores the intersections of gender, genre, law, and story, revealing the ways in which the courtroom became a site of empowerment for women around the turn of the century. A major contribution to our understanding of the legal power of literary stories and styles, Criminal Conversations willbe of interest to students of law, literature, rhetoric, and women's studies.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231105088
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
01/28/1999
Series:
Social Foundations of Aesthetic Forms Series
Edition description:
CASEBOOK E
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
6.22(w) x 9.32(h) x 0.84(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Pt. IIntroduction and Historical Foundation1
Prologue: Telling Stories in the Courtroom3
1Criminal Conversation and the Conversational Process of the Law10
2The Transformative Magic of Legal Fictions: The Suppression of Sex in Early English Civil Adultery Cases27
Pt. IITheodore Tilton vs. Henry Ward Beecher: Criminal Conversation, 187555
Prologue: Crisis of Confidence in the Courtroom57
3The Maintenance of Mutual Confidence: Sentimental Strategies at the Beecher-Tilton Trial61
4Silent Woman, Speaking Fiction: The "Ministry of Catherine Gaunt" at the Beecher-Tilton Trial92
Pt. IIIFemale-Plaintiff Criminal Conversation Cases: Rewriting the Law's Story of Marriage119
Prologue: Revision Through Four Cases121
5Rethinking the Law's Story of Marriage: The Bonds of Sentiment125
6Consequences of Change: The Sexually Passive Husband and the Erotically Autonomous Wife159
Notes183
Works Cited223
Table of Adultery Cases237
Index241

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