Criminal Woman, the Prostitute, and the Normal Woman

Criminal Woman, the Prostitute, and the Normal Woman

Book Pages: 320 Illustrations: 32 b&w photos, 30 tables Published: January 2004

Gender and Sexuality, Science and Technology Studies, Sociology

Cesare Lombroso is widely considered the founder of the field of criminology. His theory of the “born” criminal dominated discussions of criminology in Europe and the Americas from the 1880s into the early twentieth century. His book, La donna delinquente, originally published in Italian in 1893, was the first and most influential book ever written on women and crime. This comprehensive new translation gives readers a full view of his landmark work.

Lombroso’s research took him to police stations, prisons, and madhouses where he studied the tattoos, cranial capacities, and sexual behavior of criminals and prostitutes to establish a female criminal type. Criminal Woman, the Prostitute, and the Normal Woman anticipated today’s theories of genetic criminal behavior. Lombroso used Darwinian evolutionary science to argue that criminal women are far more cunning and dangerous than criminal men. Designed to make his original text accessible to students and scholars alike, this volume includes extensive notes, appendices, a glossary, and more than thirty of Lombroso’s own illustrations. Nicole Hahn Rafter and Mary Gibson’s introduction, locating his theory in social context, offers a significant new interpretation of Lombroso’s place in criminology.


“Feminist and twenty-first century historians will find Lombroso’s text and the translators’ introduction to be a crucial contribution to the understanding of the recent development of a more equitable science of the sexes.” — Kathryn Pratt , History & Philosophy of the Life Sciences

“In the excellent introduction, the two translators put Lombroso and his work into their scientific, historical, social, political, and geographical context….” — Maria Kaspersson, International Criminal Justice Review

“Rafter and Gibson’s new edition of Criminal Woman is a vital resource for a diverse range of researchers and students. They effectively demonstrate that a new translation was long overdue, and adjustments can be made to textbooks and courses on criminology in the light of it.” — Lizzie Seal , Crime, Law and Social Change

"Criminal Woman offers complete and direct access to a classic of criminology. . . . The value of this version is its gift of a far more comprehensive understanding of Lombroso and Ferrero's ideas, flaws, and continuing influence on criminology and society. . . . Highly accessible . . . . Enlightening." — Loretta J. Capehear , Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture

"A magnificently useful and user-friendly edition within the history of European social thought. It deserves the widest possible readership." — Daniel Vyleta, European History Quarterly

"Entertaining reading . . . . Rafter and Gibson, who are extremely smart, defend their project on the grounds that we should be able to consult Lombroso's original to contextualize our knee-jerk reaction to his ideas. . . . Surely we can take Lombroso seriously in his struggle to reconcile discrepant discourses and still seize with glee on his absurdities." — Charisse Gendron , Rain Taxi

"[Lombroso's] still relevant works haunt contemporary ideas of criminality and jurisprudence. Current debates over the biology of mind versus the role of environment ably show that we haven't resolved the nature-nurture fray Lombroso entered—nor do we actually know much more about what makes a criminal than he did. Although maybe we doubt it has quite so much to do with the mandible."
— Alexis Soloski , Village Voice

"[T]he most definitive [source] yet available for understanding the range and claims of Lombroso's work. . . . The editors include a highly useful introduction. . . . [I]lluminating." — Garland E. Allen, Isis

"The introduction to this text, written by the translators, makes this book accessible to those unfamiliar with Lombroso's work, situating his study in an intellectual and political context." — Pippa Holloway, Bulletin of the History of Medicine

"This comprehensive new translation of the first and most influential book ever written on women and crime aims to give readers a full view of [Lombroso's] landmark work." — Anne Hartman, Women: A Cultural Review

"This volume contains many helpful and practical features. . . . The most valuable contribution of Criminal Woman is its greater faithfulness to the original source." — Paul A. Garfinkel , Journal of Modern Italian Studies

The editors’ introduction is a must-read. . . . Rafter and Gibson bring valuable and complementary skills to their collaboration and these are perhaps most obviously displayed in their introduction. . . . For making the 'magnificent tangle of brilliance and nonsense' (p. 31) that is Lombroso’s Criminal Woman more apparent and accessible, Rafter and Gibson deserve recognition." — Rosemary Gartner , Canadian Journal of Sociology

“Cesare Lombroso created the field of criminology, but there has been a lack of available textbooks making his arguments accessible to today’s students of history, law, and sociology. This volume fills that void. Offering work previously not translated along with a scholarly introduction and new visual evidence, it reveals Lombroso’s argument without distorting the peculiar and genuinely contradictory character of his reasoning.” — Peter Becker, European University Institute

“Criminal Woman, the Prostitute, and the Normal Woman is a major publishing landmark in criminology. Nicole Hahn Rafter and Mary Gibson have achieved a remarkable feat in translating this pivotal work and presenting it for scholars to study in a well-edited text. It gives new insights into positivism and the history of the subject. It will be required reading for anyone interested in developments in the field. It may even lead to new evaluations of Lombroso’s contribution, not least by feminist scholars.” — Frances Heidensohn, Goldsmiths College, University of London


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Cesare Lombroso (1835–1909), an internationally famous physician and criminologist, wrote extensively about jurisprudence, psychiatry, human sexuality, and the causes of crime.

As a young law student, Guglielmo Ferrero (1871–1942) assisted Lombroso with research.

Table of Contents Back to Top
List of Tables ix

List of Illustrations xi

Acknowledgments xiv

Editors' Introduction 3

Author's Preface 35

Part I The Normal Woman

1 The Female in the Animal World 41

2 Anatomy and Biology of Woman 46

3 Senses and Psyche of Woman 58

4 Cruelty, Compassion, and Maternity 65

5 Love 73

6 The Moral Sense 77

7 Intelligence 82

Part II Female Criminology

8 Crime in the Animal Wlorld 91

9 Crimes of Savage and Primitive Women 95

10 The History of Prostitution 100

Part III Pathological Anatiomy and Antrhpopmetry of Criminal Woman and the Prostitute

11 The Skull of the Female Offender 107

12 Pathological Anomalies 114

13 The Brains of Female Criminals and Prostitutes 118

14 Anthropometry of Female Criminals 121

15 Facial and Cephalic Anomalies of Female Criminals and Prostitutes 127

16 Other Anomalies 131

17 Photographs of Criminals and Prostitutes 135

18 the Criminal Type in women and Its Atavistic Origin 144

19 Tatoos 151

Part IV Biology and Psychology of Female Criminals and Prostitues

20 Menstruation, Fecundity, Vitality, Strength, and Reflexes 159

21 Acuteness of Sense and Vision 165

22 Sexual Sensitivity (Lesbianism and Sexual Psychopathy) 171

23 The Female Born Criminal 182

24 Occasional Criminals 193

25 Crims of Passion 201

26 Suicides 209

27 The Born Prisotiute 213

28 The Occasional Prostitute 222

29 Insane Criminals 227

30 Epileptic Criminals and the Morally Insane 231

31 Hysterical Criminals 234

Appendix 1: Comparing Three Editions of La donna delinquente 241

Appendix 2: Illustrations in the Earlier Editions 256

Notes 259

Glossary 285

References 291

Index 297
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3246-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3207-7
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