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Alesha Lister, ‘Reading Victorian Working-Class Expectations of Fatherhood in Trials of Paternal Negligence’, 1-28

Article

Published onFeb 01, 2019
Alesha Lister, ‘Reading Victorian Working-Class Expectations of Fatherhood in Trials of Paternal Negligence’, 1-28

Abstract
This article examines the complex dynamics of class and gender in criminal proceedings against of men charged with feloniously causing the death of their children through neglect of their paternal duties. The intersection of ideas about respectability, masculinity and fatherhood are explored through a range of archival material generated by trials of men charged with fatally neglecting their children at the Central Criminal Court of London between 1800 and 1913. I argue that the behaviour of men accused of neglect-based homicide not only fell short of middleclass expectations of fatherhood but contravened customary expectations of fatherhood within London's working-class communities. Legal rulings on what did, and did not, constitute paternal negligence amongst London’s poor reflected and were shaped by the dynamic interplay of middle-class and working-class ideas about fatherhood.

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