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Local Amercanists Lecture Series: Justine Murison

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Local Amercanists Lecture Series: Justine Murison

English Friday, December 3, 2021 1:00 pm-2:30 pm Virtual

Join the next Local Americanists talk, featuring Justine Murison, English Department, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, discussing "Faith in Exposure: Privacy and Secularism in Nineteenth-Century America."

To RSVP and access the paper, contact Local Americanists Lecture Series Co-Chair Edlie Wong (edlie@umd.edu).

Chapter 2 of Faith in Exposure focuses on the changes to marriage law and custom in the early nineteenth century. Running parallel to the disestablishment of state churches (covered in Chapter 1) was the transformation of marriage from a public duty to a private contract. These twinned privatizations—of religion and marriage—deeply affected each other such that marriage, because a private choice, came to represent one’s moral nature best. At the margins of the culture of private marriage, though, emerged the logical conclusion that to live a morally authentic life might well mean jettisoning monogamous marriage entirely. The chapter highlights how “anti-marriage” radicals cited freedom of religion as a defense of freedom in (and from) marriage and how their critics responded by positing a version of marriage that they named as modern and free but which we often call “traditional marriage” today. The chapter then concentrates on a selection of popular and obscure domestic novels by white women that grapple quite explicitly with irreligion (the lingering specter of infidelity as represented by such figures as Frances Wright and Stephen Pearl Andrews) and with the alternative spiritual and utopian communities rising to prominence in the antebellum era. If the fight over free love would be focused on a debate over the role of marriage in secular modernity, domestic novels—in which the marriage plot organizes the horizon of readers’ expectations—proved a particularly useful vehicle for thinking through the relation of private religion to private marriage.

 

Learn more about the Local Americanists series.

Add to Calendar 12/03/21 1:00 PM 12/03/21 2:30 PM America/New_York Local Amercanists Lecture Series: Justine Murison

Join the next Local Americanists talk, featuring Justine Murison, English Department, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, discussing "Faith in Exposure: Privacy and Secularism in Nineteenth-Century America."

To RSVP and access the paper, contact Local Americanists Lecture Series Co-Chair Edlie Wong (edlie@umd.edu).

Chapter 2 of Faith in Exposure focuses on the changes to marriage law and custom in the early nineteenth century. Running parallel to the disestablishment of state churches (covered in Chapter 1) was the transformation of marriage from a public duty to a private contract. These twinned privatizations—of religion and marriage—deeply affected each other such that marriage, because a private choice, came to represent one’s moral nature best. At the margins of the culture of private marriage, though, emerged the logical conclusion that to live a morally authentic life might well mean jettisoning monogamous marriage entirely. The chapter highlights how “anti-marriage” radicals cited freedom of religion as a defense of freedom in (and from) marriage and how their critics responded by positing a version of marriage that they named as modern and free but which we often call “traditional marriage” today. The chapter then concentrates on a selection of popular and obscure domestic novels by white women that grapple quite explicitly with irreligion (the lingering specter of infidelity as represented by such figures as Frances Wright and Stephen Pearl Andrews) and with the alternative spiritual and utopian communities rising to prominence in the antebellum era. If the fight over free love would be focused on a debate over the role of marriage in secular modernity, domestic novels—in which the marriage plot organizes the horizon of readers’ expectations—proved a particularly useful vehicle for thinking through the relation of private religion to private marriage.

 

Learn more about the Local Americanists series.