Annual Colloquium - 2007
Hitched: Marriage in America
Professor of History
The Evergreen State College
Stephanie Coontz teaches history and family studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, and is Director of Research and Public Education for the Council on Contemporary Families, which she chaired from 2001-04. She is the author of Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage, (Viking Press, 2005), The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap (1992 and 2000, Basic Books), The Way We Really Are: Coming to Terms with America's Changing Families (Basic Books, 1997), and The Social Origins of Private Life: A History of American Families. She also edited
American Families: A Multicultural Reader (Routledge, 1999). Her work has been translated into French, Spanish, German, Norwegian, and Japanese.
Marriage has changed more in the past 35 years than the previous 3500 years. As individuals and as a society, we are still trying to sort out the consequences of these changes and how to cope with them. For thousands of years, marriage was not about love and mutual respect but about property, power, and male dominance. It was only 200 years ago that love began to be central to the definition of marriage, and only 100 years ago that we began the long march to real equality between men and women. In "Courting Trouble? The World Historic Transformation of Marriage", Coontz shows how marriage has become fairer and more fulfilling than in the past, but also more optional and fragile, and what that means for our society and our personal lives.