Many of our modern marriage traditions have their roots in the Victorian era - everything from taking a honeymoon trip to donning a white wedding dress.
But it's often argued that the Victorians also codified our ideas about romantic love, giving us an unhealthy obsession with finding our "soulmates." They may even be responsible for the very disintegration of the institution of marriage.
Jennifer Phegley, chair of the UMKC Department of English, delves into these issues in her book Courtship and Marriage in Victorian England. She discusses the norms of Victorian relationships - as well as those who flaunted sexual conventions - on Thursday, February 9, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Library, 14 W. 10thSt.
Phegley draws on little-known conduct books, letter-writing manuals, domestic guidebooks, letters, and novels to reveal the Victorian versions of "dating" and "tying the knot." She also delves into the convoluted marriage laws of the era, the varieties of marriage licenses, illegal unions, and alternate courtship practices (matrimonial agencies, newspaper advertising, courtship correspondence groups) which provided a low-tech version of today's internet dating.
Admission is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. RSVP online  or call 816.701.3407. Free parking is available at the Library District Parking Garage at 10th & Baltimore.
Major funding for programs at the Kansas City Public Library is provided by a generous grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.