Narrative, law and emotion: husband killers in early nineteenth-century Ireland

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Scholars of emotion and the law have sought to demonstrate the significant role emotion plays in shaping the operation of courtrooms, the development of legal theory and practice, and the possibilities for justice. This paper contributes to the discussion by exploring what happens when emotion is ignored or underplayed in trial narratives, seeking to demonstrate that whose emotion is considered to be important can shed light on power dynamics, law and the cultures in which law operates. It does so through a case study of women on trial for murdering their husbands in early nineteenth-century Ireland. It argues that emotion is not simply another species of evidence that can be used in criminal processes, but itself a type of narrative - emotion is constructed and performed by actors in legal dramas and forms a competing story to others in the courtroom space.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-227
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Legal History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • England
  • Defenses
  • Scotland
  • Violence
  • Murder


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