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The Household and the Making of History

The Household and the Making of History
A Subversive View of the Western Past

$48.99 (P)

  • Date Published: April 2004
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521536691

$ 48.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • Contrary to previously-held views, this book argues that a unique late marriage pattern explains the continuing puzzle of why Western Europe was the site of changes that gave birth to the modern world. It contends that the roots of modern developments are located in history more than a millennium earlier, when the peasants in northwestern Europe began to marry their daughters almost as late as their sons. This phenomenon affords a more understandable account of items long considered as peculiar Western achievements, including the industrial revolution and mass democratic political movements.

    • A new social explanation for the rise of the modern world
    • Indispensable reading for anyone interested in the status of the modern family
    • Gives a new perspective to arguments on the contemporary gender order
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "Hartman provides a fascinating, highly original, and ultimately challenging interpretation of the role of the family in Western civilization. The author is abreast of the current debates in family history, judicious in her comments, and extremely talented. There is much to reflect on. Highly recommended."
    CHOICE, D.C. Baxter, Ohio University

    "This is a really exciting book, taking a bold stance about the nature of gender relations in Western society, and about the role gender relations played in a larger history. It's a big picture effort, by an imaginative scholar working from one of the key findings in comparative family history. It will cause debate, stimulate further reassessment -- in general, do what an ambitious historical synthesis should do."
    Peter Stearns, George Mason University

    "Mary S. Hartman has been a pioneering historian, a founder of women's history, the author of a path-breaking book about homicide. The Making of History; A Subversive View of the Western Past is her masterwork. What, she asks, made modern Western history different? Her answer, which most historians have neglected, is marriage. Men and women married later in the West. This apparently simple demographic reality has shaped culture, society, and history itself. Hartman's "subversive view" may prove to be canonical wisdom. A superbly adventurous book."
    Catharine R. Stimpson, New York University

    "In recent decades, historical demographers have mapped out the structural characteristics of the Western family over the centuries, and pointed to its distinctive features in historical global perspective. In The Household and the Making of History, Mary S. Hartman challenges demographers and historians alike to contemplate the cultural implications of one aspect of that household pattern: late age at marriage for women. Assimilating a huge volume of material drawn from many different historical subfields, Hartman argues persuasively that the household was (and still is) the locus in which potentialities for wide-ranging historical change resided, and that womenas place in that locus was much more one of agency than historians have usually credited. This is a fluent, provocative challenge to many current models of gender and of political and social change.
    L.R. Poos, The Catholic University of America

    "What caused northwestern Europe's extraordinary trajectory? ...Scholars of a macro historical turn have grappled with this question in various guises. Now, in this wonderfully rich and exciting book, Mary Hartman provides a satisfying answer to that riddle, and presents us with a new big picture."
    H-Albion (H-Net), Anne McLaren, School of History, University of Liverpool

    "...comprises an important contribution to world history as well as to the history of women and gender... one of the most significant recent works on gender and should be required reading for European and world historians and scholars of gender."
    World History Connected

    "What caused northwestern Europe's extraordinary trajectory? Now, in this wonderfully rich and exciting book, Mary Hartman provides a satisfying answer to that riddle...This is a bold prospectus...."
    H-Net Book Review

    "Good historical syntheses of women's and family history show us what history looks like with their subjects at the center rather than at the margins of the story, but great syntheses suggest that our vision of history might not ever be the same...[Hartman] has provided us with just such a rare work of scholarship.... Over time, Hartman's analysis of household structure may prove to be a paradigm shift in how historians approach and explain significant changes in western history. It will also undoubtedly prove important for global historians as they search for new paths toward a comparative approach to the development of global civilizations. Hartman clearly sets out an agenda for scholars interested in women's and family history. Taking her path could be very exciting and rewarding."
    H-Women, Christopher Corley, Department of History, Minnesota State University, Mankato

    "Hartman is certainly to be praised for her presentation of European peasant families, including the women in them, as agents of their own destiny and for calling for better integration of the analysis of gender into major global developments."
    Merry Wiesner-Hanks, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Journal of Modern History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2004
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521536691
    • length: 310 pages
    • dimensions: 227 x 152 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.416kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. How Northwestern Europe was strange: marriage, household, and history
    2. Marrying early and marrying late: divergent and parallel lives
    3. The riddle of the 'Western family patterns'
    4. The women and men of Montaillou and Salem Village: patterns of gender and power
    5. Communities in crisis: heresy, witchcraft, and the sexes in Montaillou and Salem
    6. What men and women want
    7. Interpreting the Western past with the women and the households left in, 1500–1800
    8. The late marriage household, the sexes, and the modern world.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Global Civilization
    • Women & Gender in European History
  • Author

    Mary S. Hartman, Rutgers University, New Jersey

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