Searching the Heart: Women, Men, and Romantic Love in Nineteenth-Century America

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The piece finishes with a call for women to value their precious school years, and to not dismiss the joys that such an experience can bring. The excitement of courtship played an important role in determining the future of a relationship.

Searching the Heart: Women, Men, and Romantic Love in Nineteenth-Century America

Although it was acknowledged that this initial feeling often fades, it was thought to lead to deeper and more fulfilling companionship during a marriage. Nineteenth century Americans feared a loveless marriage, not confusing companionship with affection. I feel like there should be more out there-- and if there's not, what should my next steps for this paper be?

I'm not sure I can choose another subject now. Please help! Have you tried procuring the book through interlibrary loan? Have you looked for books that don't have 'marriage' in the title? I'm not sure how to do that kind of loan-- my library was of little help. And yes, of course. I've looked for just courtship and marriage separately. Different ethnic and religious groups had very different, cultural ways for courtship and marriage. Money factored quite a bit into this. Poor people had different customs than more affluent folks.

Check out the movie Hester Street to see what it was like during the time period you're interested in. A very cute, more modern movie is Crossing Delancy , with the same subject matter. Etiquette books, like Correct Social Usage , would have appealed to folks who were estabilished in the US.

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If you can do it, I'd recommend focusing on a particular ethnic group Pick Jewish Immigrants! That will make it much easier for you! One thing you might include in your research searches is websites and books for historical romance writers, because the rules of courtship are the bread and butter of romance writers. There are a ton of sites and books out there describing modes of dress, societal rules, etc.

A ROMANTIC LOVE STORY TO MELT YOUR HEART - 2019 Nigerian Movies

They have widely varying levels of accuracy and rigor, though, so be cautious. A lot of this will be focused on England and on the nobility, unfortunately, given the interests of romance writers, but it may help guide you to some better resources, as well.


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It's about American girls marrying in England, but it addresses the differences between the social mores of the two places, so it might cover some of the ground you need. Or The Buccaneers by Edith Wharton. There's the book and the mini-series. It's about American girls, the daughters of an industrialist, going to England to marry men with titles.

SEARCHING THE HEART Women, Men, and Romantic Love in Nineteenth-Century America

When you say the library was of little help, did you ask the staff? Because if they don't know how to do a basic interlibrary loan I would wonder about how functional your school was in general. If your school library has a small collection I would look at the local public library for an encyclopedia of marriage my public library has several as well as general books on marriage, american history and women's studies.

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Are you you really looking at movie clips? Because a paper about movie's fictional representation of victorian marriage is very different from a paper about the facts of Victorian courtship. Same with the websites and podcasts, have you been taught how to critically evaluate information? You should not be looking at magazine articles, you should be looking at journal articles. I did a quick search and pulled up a large number of really good papers, quick reads that are dense with information. It seems like you are just using google and amazon to research.

Perhaps most significant for the history of gender, according to Lystra, is that the introduction of romantic love — and by extension, compassionate marriage — bridged a gap between women and men that gave each greater insight into the nature and experience of the opposite sex. Contrary to the image of misunderstanding and distance between nineteenth-century men and women, Lystra argues that both middle-class men and women shared romantic values that encouraged them to seek reciprocal understanding.

Lystra found that nineteenth-century middle-class Americans held an extremely high estimation of, almost reverence for, sexual expression as a symbol of love and personal sharing. Many married women actually embraced their sexuality. Likewise, their husbands showed no shock, horror, or even mild displeasure at their wives sexual interest, but instead seemed pleased by private expressions of desire.

The free expression of sexuality in romantic love, paired with declining birthrates that Lystra calls unprecedented and unmatched, means most couples must have separated sex from procreation. Yet, Lystra argues against the repressive hypothesis that abstinence was the Victorian choice of birth control, instead pointing to a number of other techniques, including diaphragms, condoms, the rhythm method, and coitus interruptus. Lystra illustrates the ways in which men cooperated in the family limitation process. Lystra attempts to refine the relationship between public advice and private behavior, but instead reiterates previous notions about the sexual complexity of the era.

Turing to medical and moral advice books, she divides them into three camps to describe a spectrum of Victorian attitudes toward sexuality. Enthusiasts viewed sex as the key to health and happiness, and encouraged full expression. The moderates separated sex from reproduction and generally only approved of expression as an act of love. The restrictionists called for sexual limitations and restraint, urging that activity be limited to procreation. Despite their stance, all three recognized the sexual appetites of women and emphasized the mutuality of sexual expression, the cornerstones of romantic love.

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Whether they condemned it, defended it, or exalted it, Victorians talked incessantly about sex. Apr 15, Janet rated it really liked it. I came across this by accident, cracked it open to the table of contents, and was hooked, just like that. The source material is letters between lovers that were thankfully! Entire courtships are detailed in these missives, some of which are quite explicit, from 21st-century-looking-back-at-theth-century point of view.

Som I came across this by accident, cracked it open to the table of contents, and was hooked, just like that. Some, I dare say, could almost be mistaken for the sort of online interactions that happen in our own times. That these letters were mostly written between unmarried couples, during or leading up to their engagements, is rather mind blowing, given the common stereotype of prudery that has attached to the peoples of the Victorian age.

The author argues that this sterotype is a mistaken one based largely on the evidence of certain medical and theological texts that were not, in 21st century terms, "sex-positive. Basically, she argues, that just because the Victorians weren't talking about sex in public doesn't mean they weren't actively engaged in it, in private, and these letters, from numerous people from varying locations and classes, certainly support her thesis! If you enjoy social history, and particularly the history of intimate relationships, I highly recommend this title.

I couldn't put it down! Of particular value to this reader are the many written letters between lovers. These are ordinary people who relished writing down their love thoughts and did so beautifully. Included are many more literary letters from Nathaniel Hawthorne to his Sophia.

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