12 May 2018

BOOK: William KUBY, Conjugal Misconduct : Defying Marriage Law in the Twentieth-Century United States (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018). ISBN 9781107160262, £ 39.99

Cambridge University Press has published a new book dealing with marriage law and controversial and legally contested marital arrangements in the United States during the 20th century.


Conjugal Misconduct reveals the hidden history of controversial and legally contested marital arrangements in twentieth-century America. William Kuby examines the experiences of couples in unconventional unions and the legal and cultural backlash generated by a wide array of 'alternative' marriages. These include marriages established through personal advertisements and matchmaking bureaus, marriages that defied state eugenic regulations, hasty marriages between divorced persons, provisional and temporary unions referred to as 'trial marriages', racial intermarriages, and a host of other unions that challenged sexual and marital norms. In illuminating the tensions between those who set marriage policies and those who defied them, Kuby offers a fresh account of marriage's contested history, arguing that although marital nonconformists composed only a small minority of the population, their atypical arrangements nonetheless shifted popular understandings of marriage and consistently refashioned the legal parameters of the institution.


William Kuby, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga
William Kuby is a UC Foundation Assistant Professor of History at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, where he directs the Africana Studies Program and teaches in the Women's Studies Program.


1. Matrimonial advertisements, matchmaking bureaus, and the threat of commercialized courtship
2. Hasty remarriage, out-of-state elopement, and the battle against 'progressive polygamy'
3. Eugenic marriage laws and the continuing crisis of out-of-state elopement
4. Trial marriage and the laws of the home
5. Black-white intermarriage, the backlash against miscegenation, and the push for racial amalgamation
6. Averting the crisis: the birth of the marriage education movement

More information with the publisher

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