Susan Sage Heinzelman,
Riding the Black Ram: Law, Literature and Gender
Stanford Law Books, Stanford, Calif.,
2010, xxv, 168 p
Unruly women are not often represented in a good light. Whether historical or fictional, disruptive women with their real or imagined excesses have long provided the material for literary and legal narratives. This probing new work analyzes a series of literary, legal, and historical texts to demonstrate the persistence of certain gender stereotypes. In her 1820 adultery trial, Queen Caroline was depicted in a cartoon riding into the House of Lords on a black ram that had the face of her Italian lover. As this book reveals, a number of women, remembered largely for their insubordinate presence, have metaphorically ‘ridden the black ram’ in the last 700 years. Heinzelman’s historicized understanding of the relationship between law and literature reveals a disquieting pattern in the legal and literary representations of women and provides a new recognition of the significance of sexuality and gender in the way we narrate our world.
1 «Termes Queinte of Lawe» and Quaint Fantasies of Literature:
Chaucer’s Man of Law and Wife of Bath, p.1
2 Public Affairs and Juridical Intimacies:
Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century French
and English Women Novelists, p. 24
3 Black Letters and Black Rams:
Law, Gender, and the Novel in Early Eighteenth-Century England, p. 47
4 How to Tell a Story That Might Prevent a Hanging:
Mary Blandy, Parricide, 1752, p. 72
5 Statues, Statutes, and Queens on Trial, p. 92
Postscript, p. 115
Notes, p. 121
Bibliography, p. 147
Index, p. 161
Susan Sage Heinzelmanis Associate Professor of English and Director of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.
She has been coeditor (with Zipporah Wiseman) of the anthology of texts Representing Women: Law, Literature and feminism (Duke University Press, Durhan, 1994. xii, 387 p. ISBN: 9870822314950), a provocative intersection between feminist, literary, and legal theories. Contributors. Kathryn Abrams, Linda Brodkey, Rita Copeland, Elizabeth Butler Cullingford, Margaret Anne Doody, Susan B. Estrich, Michelle Fine, Anne B. Goldstein, Angela P. Harris, Susan Sage Heinzelman, Christine L. Krueger, Martha Minow, Carol Sanger, and Judy Scales-Trent.