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Passions at Bar: Crimes and Emotions in Italian Penal Law in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

Between the 1870s and 1920s, the debate around crime, criminals, criminality and penology in Italy was characterized by great intensity and a significant level of analytical and theoretical productivity. In this historical period, Italy's advances in the codification of law – especially criminal – proved a significant reference point throughout and beyond continental Europe. This research project examines the different concepts and theories of emotions which emerged from the legal thoughts, codified laws and new fields of knowledge, rapidly acquiring – sometimes problematically – the recognition of new "disciplines" such as criminal anthropology, forensic psychiatry and criminal sociology. Which emotions of the perpetrator were considered to have an explicit juridical relevance or, on the contrary, an implicit and indirect relevance and why? Which general juridical principles or specific norms was a specific emotion attached to, how and why? Was there any juridical relationship between these emotions? What was the role of age, gender and social status? The research also examines juridical practices, analyzing specifically, but not exclusively, trials linked to the so-called "crime of passion" i.e., homicides principally committed against those toward whom the defendant had a pre-existing emotional connection, usually a lover or family member, and in particular cases involving female victims, in which love, sexual intercourse and male honor are generally singled out).