Through Lizzie Borden’s Mirror: Reflections on Women and Law


Westmount Public Library, CA, 4574 Sherbrooke Street West, Westmount, QC, CA

A Great Trials Lecture with Prof. Shauna Van Praagh (Law).

“Lizzie Borden took an axe,
Gave her mother forty whacks,
When the job was nicely done,
She gave her father forty-one!”

In late 19th century Massachusetts, Lizzie Borden was tried and acquitted for the murder of her parents. Over a century later, we are invited to reflect on, and through, her story as we consider the shaping force of social norms and expectations. Real and fictional narratives - including the play “Blood Relations” by Canadian playwright Sharon Pollock - intertwine in this discussion of the constraints and potential of law revealed by the experiences and perspectives of women. Lizzie Borden, actor and victim all in one, shows us that we are both subject to, and creators of, law in our lives.

This lecture has been accredited by the Barreau du Québec for 1 hour of Continuing Legal Education: no. 10060928.

Great Trials III Lecture Series: Private Lives, Public Law

Organized by the Institute for the Public Life of Arts and Ideas (IPLAI), the Great Trials lecture series considers a collection of history-making trials across time and examines the social and political contexts in which they took place as well as their cultural consequences. The series takes the position that ‘law’ happens as much outside the courtroom as it does within it, and that each of these pivotal events stands as testament to the ways in which constructions of authority, law, and justice have informed cultural consciousness across centuries.

Fees: $60 for the series of five lectures, or $15 for individual lectures.