Sunday, June 05, 2005

1776--start of the Self-help movement?

I am intrigued by the new book Marriage, A History by Stephanie Coontz. I haven't read it yet, but I heard Professor Coontz interviewed on Fresh Air last week. She detailed the evolution of marriage from an institution of ecomomic power to one of personal fulfillment--and the consequences that have come along with that concept. I am always fascinated to learn how things we take as a given are actually part of an ongoing revolutionary process. And speaking of revolution, she traces the notion of love & marriage back to the Declaration of Independence and the American and French Revolutions.

Our current mental framework of love, marriage, and individuality may have its roots in the then-radical call for the rights of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" that formed the foundation of our nation. (Does that mean that we can blame Thomas Jefferson for Dr. Phil?)

I am looking forward to hearing Professor Coontz speak this week at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh.

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