Defying Marriage Law in the Twentieth-Century United States
Cambridge University Press 2018
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Intellectual HistoryNew Books in LawNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network July 16, 2018 Lilian Calles Barger
William Kuby is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. His book, Conjugal Misconduct: Defying Marriage Law in the Twentieth-Century United States (Cambridge University Press, 2018), examines the complicated legal and cultural history of heterosexual marriage. Long before the controversy over same-sex marriage, Americans found multiple ways to object to certain heterosexual marriages and divorce. The commercialization of courtship through advertisements and marriage bureaus, trial and common law marriages, rising divorce and remarriage rates, interracial coupling, and onerous waiting periods and requirements created a marriage crisis in law. It also created a crisis in social policy and norms as people experimented with unconventional unions and attempted to redefine gender roles and expectations. The marriage market was rife with unrealized expectations. Often the attention from conservative critics and journalists was greater than any real threat to marriage and the family. Kuby has shown us how marriage has been an area of legal contest and the how it continually generated anxiety about the foundations of society.
This episode of New Books in Gender Studies was produced in cooperation with the Society for U.S. Intellectual History
Lilian Calles Barger, www.lilianbarger.com, is a cultural, intellectual and gender historian. She is the author of The World Come of Age: An Intellectual History of Liberation Theology (Oxford University Press, 2018).