Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.
Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.
Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Joyce Avrech Berkman
American Studies | European History | Women's Studies
This dissertation examines the behavioral recommendations of courtship advice literature published in Britain and in British North America during the seventeenth, eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. These recommendations gave white middling class women and, increasingly during the eighteenth century, their male counterparts models of appropriate courtship behavior and ideal partners. I argue that shifts of opinion that began to emerge in these two areas during the eighteenth century, in large measure a consequence of the impact of the Enlightenment, the American Revolution and the growth of a more mobile urban society, involved a change in the cultural understanding of the power and autonomy of women in courtship. Middling white women's greater control in courtship dynamics also reflected a decline in parental control over courtship, women's better access to education and a changing societal understanding of women's roles as mothers, citizens and wives. I further discuss how British courtship advice literature heavily influenced North American authors and how after the American Revolution North American authors often struggled to distance themselves from their British counterparts in creating an uniquely American system of courtship. I contend that the advice contained in a diverse group of sources, ranging from sermons and short newspaper articles on breach of the marriage promise suits to extensive courtship advice manuals and novels, documents the efforts of authors of courtship advice literature to modify the traditional patriarchal system of courtship without completely overthrowing long held notions of gender inequality and coverture.
Barske, Carolyn May, ""The Lover’s Instructor": Courtship Advice In Anglo-America, 1640-1830" (2011). Doctoral Dissertations 1896 - February 2014. 250.