Early American History Seminar: Kirsten Sword, Indiana University

Early American History and Culture Seminar
Thursday, February 19, 2009

5:30 pm to 7:00 pm

“Submit or Starve? Two Seventeenth-Century Marriages and the Making of a Precedent”
Kirsten Sword, Indiana University
In the Restoration-era court case Manby v. Scott, England’s leading legal authorities used marriage and misogyny to bind political wounds. The case framed two centuries of Anglo-American legal debate over household authority and obligation, but subsequent generations masked its significance even as they reified its arguments. This essay situates Manby in its original context, using it to explore the place of marriage in seventeenth-century conflicts over political and religious authority, and to examine the contested relationship between the theory and practice of household government in both old and New England. In revised form, it will serve as the introductory chapter for my book, Wives not Slaves: Dependence, Authority and the Invention of the Modern Order.