Gender, Crime and Deviance in Eighteenth Century Britain

Module code: HS3808

This module explores a range of crimes and deviant behaviours in England and Wales during the ‘long eighteenth-century’ (c. 1680-1820) through the lens of gender. Through exploration of archival sources and historiographic debates, students will examine topics including homicide, assault, sexual violence, theft and highway robbery, sexual deviance, illegitimacy, sex work and more. We will examine how understandings of masculinity and femininity influenced deviant and criminal behaviours; how and why certain behaviours were criminalised while others were not; how men and women were treated by the criminal justice system; and how the perceived differences between the sexes informed popular understandings of crime and deviance. Each class will involve close analysis of a range of primary source material, including Assize, Great Session and quarter session court records such as depositions, confessions, newspapers, pamphlets, parish records and satirical images. Students will be encouraged to think critically, thematically and comparatively about how understandings of gender are inextricably linked to perceptions of criminality and deviance.