Faulkner explores 19th century approaches to marriage in new book
Love, Adultery, and Marriage
Reform in Nineteenth-Century America, a new book by
Associate Dean and Professor of History Carol Faulkner, was published in
September by the University of Pennsylvania Press.
In the book, Faulkner traces how social
reformers between 1830 and 1880 shifted notions of adultery and marriage away
from patriarchal, legal frameworks, reconceptualizing marriage as a voluntary
relationship focused on love and individual choice. For these reformers, she
argues, adultery was a metaphor that allowed them to express their experiences within
loveless marriages — a perspective that shifted attitudes toward marriage and
advanced important conversations concerning sexual rights and divorce across
the United States. These 19th century criticisms of marriage have
continued a longer transformation in marital and gender relations that
continues to this day.
Faulkner studies women, gender, sexuality, and
social movements in 19th century America. Among six authored or edited books,
and numerous chapters concerning the role of women in 19th century activism,
she is author of Lucretia Mott's Heresy:
Abolition and Women's Rights in Nineteenth-Century America and Women's Radical Reconstruction: The
Freedmen's Aid Movement, both also published by the University of
Pennsylvania Press. She is particularly well known for her research concerning
Mott and is frequently invited to speak on topics including women’s suffrage,
abolition, and feminism in the early United States.
For more information on Faulkner’s book, please visit
the University of Pennsylvania Press’s website. Faulkner also discussed her research in the Department of History’s new podcast series.