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American Literary History and the Turn toward Modernity$
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Melanie V. Dawson and Meredith L. Goldsmith

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780813056043

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813056043.001.0001

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Companionate Marriage across the Century’s Turn

Companionate Marriage across the Century’s Turn

Progress, Patriarchy, and the Problem of Representation

(p.175) 6 Companionate Marriage across the Century’s Turn
American Literary History and the Turn toward Modernity

Melanie V. Dawson

University Press of Florida

The struggle to realize companionate marriage appears as a central conflict in literary works by Anglo-American, African American, and ethnic American writers, who grapple with the issues raised by new ideologies and cultures of marriage. Drawing from cultural history that includes Lindsey and Evans’s volume, The Companionate Marriage (1927), and responses to it as well as a range of literary marriages that demonstrate the power of the companionate ideal, this piece charts the interaction between changing attitudes toward marriage in life and literature. As the range and complexity of opinions circulating around this issue demonstrate, the ostensibly “modern” question of equality in marriage had been debated as far back as the mid-nineteenth century. By contrast, later, more modern narratives increasingly turn to depictions of non-companionate, patriarchal arrangements, which offer both cautionary tales about the past and counter a trenchant idealism about the companionate model.

Keywords:   Marriage, Companionate, equality, patriarchy, cultural history

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