Catrines intressanta blekhet

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


The main theme of this dissertation is the question of how young women in the early middle class handled the new demands for marriage based on love instead of on judgements of moral, economy and status. Another theme is the education of these middle class girls around 1800 and the question how this new education interacted with the new demands for love marriage. The German social historian Ulrike Prokop argues the thesis that the new demands for love as a prerequisite for marriage entailed complications for young women. The requirement of love was difficult to reconcile with the need to be supported. These incompatible demands forced young women of the bourgeoisie into humiliating compromises, self-deception or self-contempt. This new perspective has shaped the main question in this work: How do the new ideas influence young women's everyday lives, relations and life situation? The source material consists of nine narratives of young women's encounters with the new demands for love marriage (letters, diaries, memoirs from late 18th and early l9th century) The young girls are all in the broad transition zone between the old and the new codes, and for many of them the encounters take the form of violent collision. Prokop's thesis is thus partly confirmed by the nine narrarives. But the material also shows that the new demand made young girls develop and, to some extent, in fact emancipated them. Early middle class girls were educated to point out their family's status and to prepare them for a role of suitable wives for modern men. The education consisted of three components: literary culture and languages, 'talents' such as to play music and a capacity to demonstrate 'good taste'. This dowry of the new middle class daughter enabled her, as a wife, to shape an important part of the family's iifestyle or habitus. My material points to what could be called a silent revolution in the history of young women, an evolution from a role of obedient daughter and commodity on the marriage market to an independent individual with a will of her own: from object to subject. In this development the idea of love marriage and the new girls' education seem to have interacted.


  • Eva Lis Bjurman
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Art History


  • ethnology, modernity, Young girls, middle class, Cultural anthropology, lovemarriage., Kulturantropologi, etnologi
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date1998 Oct 2
  • Brutus Östlings Bokförlag Symposion
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 1998-10-02 Time: 10:15 Place: Carolinasalen External reviewer(s) Name: Rundquist, Angela Title: [unknown] Affiliation: [unknown] ---