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Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Spring 2010

AMS 311S • Matrimony in America: Ritual, Romance, and Law-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
29695 MWF
11:00 AM-12:00 PM
1:00 PM-2:00 PM
BUR 228
BUR 228

Course Description

Matrimony, or the rite of marriage, the act of marrying, can be traced to the turn of the fourteenth century. It is a continually evolving concept, though also a sociohistoric artifact that intersects with the histories of race, ethnicity, class, age, gender, sexuality, and place. As such, the evolution of matrimony in America has lasting implications in culture and society. In this course we will examine its historical rise. We will interrogate the concept of marriage, paying particular attention to the parameters of courtship and contracts. We will read autobiographical, fictional, and non-fictional accounts of matrimony, ranging in time and place from colonial New England to the antebellum South, from New York in the 1920s to current-day California.

This course will combine lectures and discussions of topics introduced in lectures and readings. As this course is designed to stimulate critical thinking, students should be prepared to share insights and knowledge. This is also a Substantial Writing Component course. Students will be expected to complete multiple writing assignments of varying lengths throughout the semester. Students will also be required to give an oral presentation at the end of the semester.


Possible Texts: Beth Bailey, From Front Porch to Back Seat: Courtship in Twentieth-Century America Nancy Cott, Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation Kathy Peiss, ed. Major Problems in the History of American Sexuality Anthony Rotundo, American Manhood Stephanie Coontz, The Social Origins of Private Life: A History of American Families, 1600-1900 Jacqueline Jones, Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work, and the Family, from Slavery to the Present Rebecca J. Fraser, Courtship and Love Among the Enslaved in North Carolina Karen Lystra, Searching the Heart: Women, Men, and Romantic Love in Nineteenth-Century America George Chauncey, Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940 Beth Bailey, Sex in the Heartland Kathleen Bogle, Hooking Up: Sex, Dating, and Relationships on Campus Renee C. Romano, Race Mixing: Black-White Marriage in Post-War America Anya Jabour, Marriage in the Early Republic: Elizabeth and William Wirt and the Companionate Ideal


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