Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Conjugal Misconduct
  • Export citation
  • Recommend to librarian
  • Buy the print book

Book description

Conjugal Misconduct reveals the hidden history of controversial and legally contested marital arrangements in twentieth-century America. William Kuby examines the experiences of couples in unconventional unions and the legal and cultural backlash generated by a wide array of 'alternative' marriages. These include marriages established through personal advertisements and matchmaking bureaus, marriages that defied state eugenic regulations, hasty marriages between divorced persons, provisional and temporary unions referred to as 'trial marriages', racial intermarriages, and a host of other unions that challenged sexual and marital norms. In illuminating the tensions between those who set marriage policies and those who defied them, Kuby offers a fresh account of marriage's contested history, arguing that although marital nonconformists composed only a small minority of the population, their atypical arrangements nonetheless shifted popular understandings of marriage and consistently refashioned the legal parameters of the institution.

Reviews

'The belief that marriage as an institution is in crisis is nothing new, historian William Kuby shows us in this engaging study of early twentieth-century marital nonconformists who pushed boundaries by engaging in trial marriages, serial polygamy, or interracial marriage, among other challenges to the norm. But while 'queer' couples generated a conservative backlash, Conjugal Misconduct demonstrates that even perceived challenges to the institution of marriage could serve to reinforce its power and influence in American social life.'

Renee Romano - Oberlin College, Ohio

'Conjugal Misconduct provides the definitive study of the 'amorphousness' of the institution of marriage between the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Nonconforming heterosexual couples pursued every angle to evade restrictive state laws, often crossing state lines to find a more lenient marital regime. Their acts of defiance reshaped marital legitimacy, while revealing that the law itself could not constrain conjugal choices. For anyone who still clings to notions of marriage’s static, coherent past, this deftly written and deeply researched book proves that improvisation and even chaos shaped the legal history of heterosexual marriage.'

Rebecca L. Davis - University of Delaware

'An informative and provocative account of how various groups and individuals have pushed to widen the definition and extend the benefits of marriage, often with unintended results.'

Stephanie Coontz - Evergreen State College, and author of Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage

'The rhetoric of a 'marriage crisis' is a familiar one. William Kuby’s excellent new book gives us an incisive history of the way that a sense of crisis was invoked in debates about a variety of forms of marital misconduct and the backlash they inspired in the progressive era. Kuby expertly marches us through the way that late nineteenth and early twentieth-century American judges, state legislators, polemicists, and reformers of all stripes relied on ideas of common sense public policy and moral decency to police marriage in each of the five instances of marital misconduct he examines.'

Angela Fernandez Source: Jotwell

Refine List

Actions for selected content:

Select all | Deselect all
  • View selected items
  • Export citations
  • Download PDF (zip)
  • Send to Kindle
  • Send to Dropbox
  • Send to Google Drive

Save Search

You can save your searches here and later view and run them again in "My saved searches".

Please provide a title, maximum of 40 characters.
×

Contents

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Book summary page views

Total views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between #date#. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed