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Is Love All You Need? Household Labor and Marriage Vows (1870-1920)
January 30, 2017 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
UW System Fellow (2016-2017)
Democracy and Justice Studies; History Department; Women’s and Gender Studies Department, UW-Green Bay
How did a wife earn her keep? This was a question a wide range of American reformers and jurists asked in the late nineteenth century. As middle-class women agitated for a greater political voice and economic independence, they appeared to be more emancipated than ever before. At the same time, marriage remained a legal arrangement in which wives exchanged their bodies and labor for their husbands’ economic support. After a brief overview, my talk will examine how this contradiction played out in one area of the law, where courts employed a modern ideal of marital love to rethink wives’ household obligations.
Kimberley Reilly is an Assistant Professor of Democracy and Justice Studies; History; and Women’s and Gender Studies at UW-Green Bay. She received her Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago. A recipient of grants from the Social Science Research Council and the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation, Reilly has published articles in Law and History Review and the Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.