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Marriage, a History: From Obedience to Intimacy or How Love Conquered Marriage

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Marriage, a History: From Obedience to Intimacy or How Love Conquered Marriage Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In this surprising landmark book, family historian Stephanie Coontz explodes every cherished assumption about marriage, starting with the notion of the traditional marriage. Forget Ozzie and Harriet. Coontz reveals that through most of history, marriage was not a relationship based on mutual love between a breadwinner husband and an at-home wife but an institution devoted to acquiring in-laws and improving the family labor force. How did marriage evolve from the loveless, arranged unions that have endured from the dawn of civilization into the sexualized, volatile relationships of today? Coontz argues that the Victorians, with their radical emphasis on marital intimacy and celebration of the individual, simultaneously made marriage more satisfying and paved the way for alternative lifestyles to thrive: divorce, gay marriage, living together, single parenting. The diminished role of heterosexual marriage in our society is not an aberration, insists Coontz, but the consequence of centuries of irrevocable social change. Marriage, A History is an engaging narrative of astonishing scope and depth that will stand as a milestone of social history and provoke debate for years to come.

Review:

"When considered in the light of history, 'traditional marriage' — the purportedly time-honored institution some argue is in crisis thanks to rising rates of divorce and out-of-wedlock births, not to mention gay marriage — is not so traditional at all. Indeed, Coontz (The Way We Never Were) argues, marriage has always been in flux, and 'almost every marital and sexual arrangement we have seen in recent years, however startling it may appear, has been tried somewhere before.' Based on extensive research (hers and others'), Coontz's fascinating study places current concepts of marriage in broad historical context, revealing that there is much more to 'I do' than meets the eye. In ancient Rome, no distinction was made between cohabitation and marriage; during the Middle Ages, marriage was regarded less as a bond of love than as a ' 'career' decision'; in the Victorian era, the increasingly important idea of true love 'undermined the gender hierarchy of the home' (in the past, men — rulers of the household — were encouraged to punish insufficiently obedient wives). Coontz explains marriage as a way of ensuring a domestic labor force, as a political tool and as a flexible reflection of changing social standards and desires. She presents her arguments clearly, offering an excellent balance between the scholarly and the readable in this timely, important book. Agent, Susan Rabiner. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

Just when the clamor over "traditional" marriage couldn’t get any louder, along comes this groundbreaking book to ask, "What tradition?" In Marriage, a History, historian and marriage expert Stephanie Coontz takes readers from the marital intrigues of ancient Babylon to the torments of Victorian lovers to demonstrate how recent the idea of marrying for love is—and how absurd it would have seemed to most of our ancestors. It was when marriage moved into the emotional sphere in the nineteenth century, she argues, that it suffered as an institution just as it began to thrive as a personal relationship. This enlightening and hugely entertaining book brings intelligence, perspective, and wit to today’s marital debate.

About the Author

Stephanie Coontz is the Director of Research and Public Education at the Council on Contemporary Families and teaches history and family studies at The Evergeen State College in Olympia, Washington. She divides her time between Makaha, Hawaii, and Washington. The author of the award-winning The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap, she writes about marriage and family issues in many national journals including The Washington Post, Harper’s, Chicago Tribune, and Vogue. Her work has been translated into Japanese, German, French, and Spanish.

On the web: http://www.stephaniecoontz.com

Table of Contents

Part One: In Search of Traditional Marriage

Chapter 1: The Radical Idea of Marrying for Love

Chapter 2: The Many Meanings of Marriage

Chapter 3: The Invention of Marriage

Part Two: The Era of Political Marriage

Chapter 4: Soap Operas of the Ancient World

Chapter 5: Something Borrowed: The Marital Legacy of the Classical World and Early Christianity

Chapter 6: Playing the Bishop, Capturing the Queen: Aristocratic Marriages in Early Medieval Europe

Chapter 7: How the Other 95 Percent Wed: Marriage Among the Common Folk of the Middle Ages

Chapter 8: Something Old, Something New: Western European Marriage at the Dawn of the Modern Age

Part Three: The Love Revolution

Chapter 9: From Yoke Mates to Soul Mates: Emergence of the Love Match and the Male Provider Marriage

Chapter 10: "Two Birds Within One Nest": Sentimental Marriage in Nineteenth-Century Europe and North America

Chapter 11: "A Heaving Volcano": Beneath the Surface of Victorian Marriage

Chapter 12: "The Time When Mountains Move Has Come": From Sentimental to Sexual Marriage

Chapter 13: Making Do, Then Making Babies: Marriage in the Great Depression and World War II

Chapter 14: The Era of Ozzie and Harriet: The Long Decade of "Traditional" Marriage

Part Four: Courting Disaster? The Collapse of Universal and Lifelong Marriage

Chapter 15: Winds of Change: Marriage in the 1960s and 1970s

Chapter 16: The Perfect Storm: The Transformation of Marriage at the End of the Twentieth Century

Chapter 17: Uncharted Territory: How the Transformation of Marriage Is Changing Our Lives

Conclusion: Better or Worse? The Future of Marriage

Conclusion

Notes

Product Details

ISBN:
9780670034079
Subtitle:
How Love Conquered Marriage
Author:
Coontz, Stephanie
Publisher:
Penguin Books
Subject:
History
Subject:
Marriage
Subject:
Sociology - Marriage & Family
Subject:
Social history
Subject:
World - General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
20060228
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
448
Dimensions:
8.5 x 5.6 x 0.92 in 0.81 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Sociology » Children and Family
History and Social Science » Sociology » General

Marriage, a History: From Obedience to Intimacy or How Love Conquered Marriage Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$11.95 In Stock
Product details 448 pages Viking Books - English 9780670034079 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "When considered in the light of history, 'traditional marriage' — the purportedly time-honored institution some argue is in crisis thanks to rising rates of divorce and out-of-wedlock births, not to mention gay marriage — is not so traditional at all. Indeed, Coontz (The Way We Never Were) argues, marriage has always been in flux, and 'almost every marital and sexual arrangement we have seen in recent years, however startling it may appear, has been tried somewhere before.' Based on extensive research (hers and others'), Coontz's fascinating study places current concepts of marriage in broad historical context, revealing that there is much more to 'I do' than meets the eye. In ancient Rome, no distinction was made between cohabitation and marriage; during the Middle Ages, marriage was regarded less as a bond of love than as a ' 'career' decision'; in the Victorian era, the increasingly important idea of true love 'undermined the gender hierarchy of the home' (in the past, men — rulers of the household — were encouraged to punish insufficiently obedient wives). Coontz explains marriage as a way of ensuring a domestic labor force, as a political tool and as a flexible reflection of changing social standards and desires. She presents her arguments clearly, offering an excellent balance between the scholarly and the readable in this timely, important book. Agent, Susan Rabiner. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by ,

Just when the clamor over "traditional" marriage couldn’t get any louder, along comes this groundbreaking book to ask, "What tradition?" In Marriage, a History, historian and marriage expert Stephanie Coontz takes readers from the marital intrigues of ancient Babylon to the torments of Victorian lovers to demonstrate how recent the idea of marrying for love is—and how absurd it would have seemed to most of our ancestors. It was when marriage moved into the emotional sphere in the nineteenth century, she argues, that it suffered as an institution just as it began to thrive as a personal relationship. This enlightening and hugely entertaining book brings intelligence, perspective, and wit to today’s marital debate.

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