William Kuby

  • Fellowship year:2010-2011
  • University: University of Pennsylvania
  • Dissertation Topic/Category: United States
  • Dissertation Title: Conjugal Misconduct: Dubious Vows, Unlawful Wedlock, and the Margins of Marital Propriety in the United States, 1900-1940
  • This dissertation investigates disreputable and legally ambiguous marital practices in the early twentieth century United States. This includes oppositional early twentieth century marital trends, like common law marriage, out of state elopement, trial marriage, child marriage, and interracial marriage. These acts of “conjugal misconduct” not only defied conventional notions of what marriage ought to look like, but also prompted new debates over what it meant to be married in modern America. Greater legal and cultural impacts are explored and the ever-shifting power struggle between these people who set marriage codes and those who challenged them is assessed. Throughout the dissertation, Mr. Kuby explores the give-and-take relationship between the makers of marriage law and the people who defied these laws, presenting the creation of modern marriage law as a process of perpetual exchange, and demonstrating the effect that disreputable marriage acts had on the state of marriage itself.