Date of Graduation

Spring 5-2014

Level of Access

Restricted: Campus/Bates Community Only Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department or Program


Number of Pages


First Advisor

Shaw, Caroline


This paper uses scandals involving sexual transgressions as a way to study social norms, values, and the impact of their disruption on the upper class, whose position in society made them especially vulnerable to public disgrace. Court reporting made secrecy impossible; newspapers pounced on the sordid evidence from trials involving sexual transgression, specifically adultery and homosexuality, and circulated it. Previous scholarship has dealt with either divorce trials and their disruption of public and private spheres or homosexuality scandals and their threat to masculinity. My thesis brings this scholarship together to question the broader impact of scandals on society. By examining editorials about these trials, I explore how scandals necessitated punishment of transgressors in order to protect vulnerable moral codes and the sense of superior morality integral to British national character.


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