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.
Susan Sage Heinzelman is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Center for Women's and Gender Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the coeditor of Representing Women: Law, Literature and Narrative (1994).