“Narrat[ing] Some Poor Little Fable”: Evidence of Bodily Pain in The History of Mary Prince and “Wife-Torture in England”

Janice Schroeder, Carleton University
Vol. 23, No. 2 (Fall 2004), 261-281

This article juxtaposes a text from 1831 with a text from 1878 to explore two moments in the history of evidence of violence against women in the nineteenth century: the first, the sole instance of testimony in English yet discovered that was written in the words of a West Indian slave woman; the second, the most exhaustive and definitive study of domestic violence to date, which resulted in significant changes in protective legislation for married women. The essay examines how definitions and representations of evidence of physical pain shifted in the humanitarian narrative of this century by arguing that humanitarian narratives were not inherently transformative but rather complicit with forms of power that privileged certain members of the social body at the expense of others.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]