History | Marriage and the American Nation
J300 | 21067 | Sword

A portion of this class reserved for majors
Above class COLL intensive writing section
Above class open to undergraduates only

What is marriage? Is it a private agreement or a public contract? A
legal bond or a religious sacrament? A right or a privilege? Who can
enter it? Who determines when it is over, and on what grounds? This
seminar examines the long history of American debates about these
questions. We will consider the complex ways that beliefs and
policies regarding marriage have affected national understandings of
gender roles, of racial difference, of the meaning of citizenship,
and of the function and reach of government. The chronological
emphasis of the course is on the eighteenth and nineteenth
centuries, although we will conclude by discussing the place of
history in the current controversy over gay marriage.
Marriage and the American Nation is a methods course, designed to
meet the History Department's J300 and the College of Arts and
Sciences' intensive writing requirements. As we study the topic, we
will attend closely to the ways in which historians use primary
sources to construct historical arguments. The assignments will give
you guided opportunities to try your hands at different forms of
historical research and writing.  More information about the course
can be found at http://www.indiana.edu/~marriage/.