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First-Year Research Seminar: Marriage in American Literature and Culture

Semester and Year SP 2018
Course Number FIRST-UG786
Section 001
Instructor Nicole Zeftel
Days MW
Time 2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Units 4
Level U


Open to Gallatin first-year students only.


Edith Wharton once proclaimed the only cure to being alone is to “make one’s center of life inside of one’s self.” Echoing Wharton’s sentiment, Kate Bolick’s recently published book  Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own , attempts to reclaim the term “spinster” as a powerful feminist identity. With the Marriage Equality Act, the meaning of contemporary marriage has changed, though some queer theorists make the case for resisting the normalization the institution of marriage entails. Beginning in the nineteenth century and moving into these varying contemporary voices, this course asks why American identity has become so intimately bound up with marriage. From mid-nineteenth century treatises on the dangers of bachelorhood to reality television, from queer theory to the current proliferation of idyllic wedding scenes clustered together through hashtags—we will examine the construction of gender roles and the shifting meaning of marriage.


All Syllabi

Course Type

First-Year Program: Research Seminars (FIRST-UG)