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Type: Journal article
Title: Impostors: performance, emotion, and genteel criminality in late eighteenth-century England
Author: Milka, A.
Citation: Emotions: History, Culture, Society, 2017; 1(2):81-107
Publisher: Brill
Issue Date: 2017
ISSN: 2206-7485
Statement of
Amy Milka
Abstract: This article considers the performance of gentility by criminals and impostors during the eighteenth century, arguing that a genteel appearance and behaviour not only facilitated crime, but allowed the accused criminal to access sympathy in the courtroom arena. Gentility comprised a set of polite mannerisms, gestures and appearances, but also required the performance of particular emotions. The performance of ‘genteel’ emotions could bring together a socially disparate group united by a shared valuation of sympathies, feelings and values. Those who claimed gentility in the eighteenth century expressed a concern for personal and public honour, a fear of shame and the desire to be viewed as someone possessing particularly refined emotional capacities such as sensibility and sympathy. Moreover, a successful claim to gentility could secure preferential treatment even for an impostor of a doubtful background and dubious character.
Keywords: Emotions; crime; sympathy; impostors; eighteenth century
Rights: © 2017, Brill
RMID: 0030090529
DOI: 10.1163/2208522X-00102006
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Appears in Collections:English publications

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