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Title: Sexual slander and its social context in England, c. 1660-1700, with special reference to Cheshire and Sussex
Author: Winch, Dinah
ISNI:       0000 0001 3570 679X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1999
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A number of historians have studied the meanings of reputation in early modern English society through the medium of defamation cases in the church courts. More recent work has tended to focus on the gendering of participation in ecclesiastical litigation and the differences in the ways that men and women constructed and maintained their good names. This thesis takes a broader approach, and places defamation cases firmly in their legal and social context. The main focus of this thesis is a sample of defamation cases from the Chester consistory court in the later seventeenth century; this is supplemented by material from the church courts of Sussex and various secular tribunals in both Cheshire and Sussex. A discussion of the law forms an important part of this thesis for it shaped both the patterns of participation in litigation and the content of insults that were alleged. A central objective of this thesis is to discuss the complexity of the gendering of reputation in this period and to show that reputation was not as rigidly polarised around gender as has previously been thought. It explores the ways in which reputation was constructed for both men and women and relates this to both the sorts of social relationships which tended to produce litigation, and the mechanisms of social control which operated within communities. It is argued that defamation litigation reveals much more about attitudes to gender relations, reputation and social order than has been realised hitherto, and that reputation was experienced not as an abstract value, but in relation to the social situations of individual women and men.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Defamation; Character; Reputation