Spring 2010
History J300 Section 28872
Tuesdays, 3:35-6:00
Ballantine 246

Professor Kirsten Sword
Ballantine Hall 735
Office Hours:
T 1:30-2:30 and by appointment

Course Description

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 course focuses on the 1700s and 1800s, but 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 historical research and writing.

Marriage of Pocahontas