History | Love, Sex and Marriage in Western Civilization
W300 | 4470 | Kvetko
Was Ovid’s instructive Art of Love well-received by Romans? What
prompted the Marquis de Sade to write such “interesting” tales in
the eighteenth-century? Did people in the past find it better to
marry for money than for love? If so, why do people today lament a
deterioration of morality and a decline in the sanctity of marriage?
This course explores how the meaning and definition of marriage has
fluctuated over time and among groups of people in Europe and
America. The course is arranged chronologically. Beginning with
the ancient world and ending with marriage in contemporary American
culture, we will look at the ways major historical events, such as
the Reformation or industrialization, have modified concepts of
partnership, sexuality and the meaning of marriage. Other subtopics
we will explore include courtship, divorce, clandestine marriages,
cohabitation, illegitimacy, premarital conception, and same-sex
unions. We will end with a discussion about the future of the
institution of matrimony.
The goal of this course is to provide solid knowledge about
marriage, love and sexuality over time in western civilization.
This knowledge will primarily be gained through lectures and
readings. The main text, A History of the Wife by Marilyn Yalom,
outlines marriage and wifehood through the ages. Other readings
primarily come from a course packet of primary documents.
Discussion activities and a class visit to the Kinsey Institute will
also contribute to our understanding of the topic.
The course requirements allows opportunities for students to write.
Two short (4 page) papers and two examinations provide chances for
students to demonstrate their understanding of the material and
compositional proficiency. In class, I will offer ample direction
and help, and students are always welcome to see me for extra
Email me at email@example.com for more information.