She Shot Him Dead: Husband-Slaying in Turn-of-the-Century Chicago

Well before the infamous cases that inspired the musical Chicago, dozens of women in Chicago attempted to secure acquittal by juries who saw them as respectable, vulnerable women victimized by their own hysteria. This strategy worked for many women until the 1910s, when this "unwritten law" came under attack by Progressive Era suffragists, lawyers, and journalists. What changed? This seminar would utilize the colorful press coverage of turn-of-the-century murder cases to interrogate changing ideas about gender, class, and class and unpack an important transitional moment in the broader cultural and legal history of spousal homicide.