Through a series of academic and public events, our network of researchers will trace the complex dialogue between imaginative literature and legal change, exploring how narratives of coercive control first anticipate legislation, and then help to publicise, understand, and enact it.
This research will make a significant and timely contribution to literary and legal scholarship on domestic abuse. Since the introduction of Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act in 2015, agencies including Women's Aid, Refuge, the BBC, Channel 4, and the Guardian have worked together to raise awareness. A BBC Three documentary, Is This Coercive Control? (2020), showed that 70% of a panel of 20 young people (aged 18-25) were not able to identify the offence. Coercive Control: From Literature into Law will show how a 'new' crime of the mind has a long and disturbing history in fiction, poetry, and drama, helping to shape understandings of coercive control within the academy and beyond.