Deborah L. Rhode Harvard University Press, 2016 Library of Congress KF9435.R48 2016 | Dewey Decimal 345.730253
Despite declining prohibitions on sexual relationships, Americans are nearly unanimous in condemning marital infidelity. Deborah Rhode explores why. She exposes the harms that criminalizing adultery inflicts—including civil lawsuits, job termination, and loss of child custody—and makes a case for repealing laws against adultery and polygamy.
Will Vaughn, a man of late middle age living in Chicago with his second wife, remembers the month of June 1957 in his hometown, the rural village of New Holland, Iowa. More precisely, Will remembers just a few days of that month and the quick sequence of astonishing events that have colored, ever since, the logic of his heart and the moods of his mind. He tells of his stunningly beautiful young mother, Leanne, who liked to recall the years of the Second World War, during which she sang with a dance band in a lounge in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He tells too of his father, Lewis, a soldier in the war who one night saw the “resplendently sequined” Leanne step onstage and began at that instant to plot his courtship of her.
But mostly what Will summons up in his intimate remembrance are those few catastrophic days in early June when he was “three months shy of twelve,” more than a decade after his parents have married and returned to the Vaughns’ home place, where Lewis farms his family’s land. For it is during those days that Leanne’s affair with a local man named Bobby Markum becomes known—first to Lewis and then, in a fiercely dramatic public confrontation, to young Will, to his beloved Grandmother Vaughn, and by nightfall to all the citizens of the town. The knowledge of such scandal, in so small a place, sets off a series of highly charged reactions, vivid consequences that surely determine the fates of every member of this unforgettable family.
A tale of memory and hero worship and the restless pulse of longing, The Book of Famous Iowans examines those forces that define not only a state made up of a physical geography, but more important, those states of the wholly human spirit.
Country Place: A Novel
Ann Petry, foreword by Farah Jasmine Griffin Northwestern University Press, 2019 Library of Congress PS3531.E933C68 2019 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Originally published in 1947, Ann Petry’s classic Country Place depicts a predominantly white community disillusioned by the indignities and corruption of small-town life.
Johnnie Roane returns from four years of military service in World War II to his wife, Glory. They had been married just a year when he left Lennox, Connecticut, where both their families live and work. In his taxi ride home, Johnnie receives foreboding hints that all has not been well in his absence. Eager to mend his fraying marriage, Johnnie attempts to cajole Glory to recommit to their life together. But something sinister has taken place during the intervening years—an infidelity that has not gone unnoticed in the superficially placid New England town.
Accompanied by a new foreword from Farah Jasmine Griffin on the enduring legacy of Petry’s oeuvre, Country Place complicates and builds on the legacy of a literary celebrity and one of the foremost African American writers of her time.
A Man in Charge: A Novel
Morris Philipson University of Chicago Press, 2000 Library of Congress PS3566.H475M3 2000 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
An old-fashioned man of character, Conrad Taylor is executive vice-president of a eastern university who, after leading a satisfying and well-ordered life, finds himself suddenly on shaky ground, struggling to do the right thing in the face of crisis, confrontation, and opportunity. A Man in Charge is an intricate novel about the uncertainties of personal power and the discovery of its limits.
In Perfect Wives, Other Women Georgina Dopico Black examines the role played by women’s bodies—specifically the bodies of wives—in Spain and Spanish America during the Inquisition. In her quest to show how both the body and soul of the married woman became the site of anxious inquiry, Dopico Black mines a variety of Golden Age texts for instances in which the era’s persistent preoccupation with racial, religious, and cultural otherness was reflected in the depiction of women. Subject to the scrutiny of a remarkable array of gazes—inquisitors, theologians, religious reformers, confessors, poets, playwrights, and, not least among them, husbands—the bodies of perfect and imperfect wives elicited diverse readings. Dopico Black reveals how imperialism, the Inquisition, inflation, and economic decline each contributed to a correspondence between the meanings of these human bodies and “other” bodies, such as those of the Jew, the Moor, the Lutheran, the degenerate, and whoever else departed from a recognized norm. The body of the wife, in other words, became associated with categories separate from anatomy, reflecting the particular hermeneutics employed during the Inquisition regarding the surveillance of otherness. Dopico Black’s compelling argument will engage students of Spanish and Spanish American history and literature, gender studies, women’s studies, social psychology and cultural studies.
A revolution in gender relations occurred in London around 1700, resulting in a sexual system that endured in many aspects until the sexual revolution of the 1960s. For the first time in European history, there emerged three genders: men, women, and a third gender of adult effeminate sodomites, or homosexuals. This third gender had radical consequences for the sexual lives of most men and women since it promoted an opposing ideal of exclusive heterosexuality.
In Sex and the Gender Revolution, Randolph Trumbach reconstructs the worlds of eighteenth-century prostitution, illegitimacy, sexual violence, and adultery. In those worlds the majority of men became heterosexuals by avoiding sodomy and sodomite behavior.
As men defined themselves more and more as heterosexuals, women generally experienced the new male heterosexuality as its victims. But women—as prostitutes, seduced servants, remarrying widows, and adulterous wives— also pursued passion. The seamy sexual underworld of extramarital behavior was central not only to the sexual lives of men and women, but to the very existence of marriage, the family, domesticity, and romantic love. London emerges as not only a geographical site but as an actor in its own right, mapping out domains where patriarchy, heterosexuality, domesticity, and female resistance take vivid form in our imaginations and senses.
As comprehensive and authoritative as it is eloquent and provocative, this book will become an indispensable study for social and cultural historians and delightful reading for anyone interested in taking a close look at sex and gender in eighteenth-century London.
The Tunnel of Love: A Novel
Peter De Vries University of Chicago Press, 2014 Library of Congress PS3507.E8673T85 2015 | Dewey Decimal 813.52
Harking from the golden age of fiction set in American suburbia—the school of John Updike and Cheever—this work from the great American humorist Peter De Vries looks with laughter upon its lawns, its cocktails, and its slightly unreal feeling of comfort. De Vries’s classic situation comedy The Tunnel of Love follows the interactions of a socially insecure, pun-loving family man, an officious lady caseworker from an adoption agency, and a chauvinist pig—all suburban neighbors who know far too much about one another’s private lives in this goofy and gently hilarious tale of marital quibbles. Noted as much for his verbal fluidity and wordplay as for his ability to see humor through pain, De Vries will delight both new readers and old in this uproarious modern masterpiece.