"Murders and Madness" examines the French debate over crime and madness. The author argues that psychiatric theories of human behaviour and new sociological interpretations of crime combined to undermine the traditional foundations of the penal system and helped to shape the new science of criminology. As a result, traditional notions of free will and moral responsibility were eroded as new and often draconian strategies evolved from managerial practices, developed mainly by medical men. This study attempts to break down the conventional boundaries between intellectual and social history by linking the often esoteric formulations of the professionals to the defendants' own mental anguish and emotional despair. The author demonstrates how the debate over crime and madness repeatedly touched on some of the most wide-spread anxieties of an era which focused on the politics of gender and class. Through a series of case studies, she looks specifically at discussions of feminine hysteria and women's sexuality, male alcoholism and racial degeneration, crimes of passion, crowd violence and revolutionary politics.
`Harris has written a useful, compendious, suggestive, often sensitive book.'
Times Literary Supplement
'the book's painstaking analysis of dozens of cases from the Paris courts over the period 1880 to 1910 gives it an authoritative tone that will not easily be challenged'
'Harris pushes beyond an analysis of existing scholarship to mine a rich vein of relevant but little-used primary source material: the official dossiers and records of murder cases at the Assizes court in Paris during the period from 1880 to 1910 ... Harris has written a fascinating and valuable book.'
Edward J. Larson, University of Georgia, Journal of the British Society for the History of Science
'a meticulously researched study of medico-legal debates in nineteenth-century France'
History Workshop Journal
'From this work one gains useful insights into the workings of the French legal system. This information is valuable, and marks another step in the evolution of a Foucault-influenced historiography.'
Sharif Gemie, Cheltenham & Gloucester College of Education, Modern & Contemporary France, No.43, Oct '90
'an intelligent and well-researched study'
British Journal of Criminology, Vol.30, No.4 Autumn '90
`Harris's impressive ability to expound complex psychological, physiological and medicolegal debates makes this a fascinating monograph. She has a firm grasp of social history and offers a convincing analysis of the changing status of the medical profession.'
'elegantly researched and richly textured book ... this remains throughout a stimulating and imaginative book that should command the attention of cultural, social, and gender historians as well as historians of science and medicine.'
Jan Goldstein, University of Chiacgo, American Historical Review, December 1991
'a powerful example of feminist archival research that crosses disciplines ... Harris brilliantly describes these trials of women as powerful cultural events ... pointing out that often criminelles passionelles gained sympathy as "respectable" women who had been seduced, abandoned, and left with child. Harris's work is also important for its treatment of the class background of the "alienists" like Charcot'
Signs, Summer 1992
'Murders and Madness is based on a wide reading in published sources (ranging from learned treatises and both highbrow and popular periodicals to the daily press) and in archival court records of Parisian murder trials for the years 1880-92. The book offers something of a discourse analysis; there is continued sensitivity to the use of language and literary forms in the construction of intellectualized approaches to social problems and behaviors.'
Karen Offen, Stanford University, Journal of Modern History, Volume 64, Number 3, Spetember 1992
'Professor Harris has written a fascinating and complex study.'
Francis Helminksi, Mayo Clinic, The American Journal of Legal History, Vol. XXXVI
'her book is valuable mainly as a contribution to the history of the medical and legal professions, and as such should be welcomed'
J.F. McMillan, University of York, EHR, Jan '93
'This is an ambitious and densely argued monograph that attempts several things and takes an overtly interdisciplinary approach to the subject ... the contribution that Harris has made is ... tremendous.'
James C. Mohr, University of Maryland, American Bar Foundation 1991
Introduction; The medical approach; Medicine, law, and criminology; Legal procedures and medical intervention; Women, hysteria, and hypnotism; Female crimes of passion; Alcoholism and the working-class man; Men, honour, and crimes of passion,; Conclusion.