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Religion and Sexuality: The Shakers, the Mormons, and the Oneida Community Paperback – March 1, 1984

ISBN-13: 978-0252011191 ISBN-10: 0252011198

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press (March 1, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252011198
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252011191
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,120,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


@FOSTER\Religion and Sexuality@"Exciting, first-rate... Shows the details of sexual sublimation among the Shakers, the intricacies of 'complex marriage' and coitus reservatus among the Oneida Perfectionists, and the virtually unfathomable complexity of Joseph Smith's early ideas and trials at plural marriage in Nauvoo." -- Western Historical Quarterly

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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Roger D. Launius VINE VOICE on February 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
The answer is quite a lot, according to historian Lawrence Foster, a member of the history faculty at Georgia Tech, a former president of the Mormon History Association, and a longstanding friend and colleague in the study of the Mormon past. Foster begins his discussion of the marriage practices of these three groups by focusing on the larger milieu of antebellum American society. During that era virtually all of the institutions of humankind received serious scrutiny and some alteration. The most obvious example was the abolition of slavery in much of the Western World; of course it came to an end in the United States only because of the radical realignment of political power coming through the Civil War. But other institutions such as marriage and family patterns also found their critics and experimenters abounded. Some of those alterations led to the creation of the Victorian family so elegantly described in a succession of books on the subject such as in "Cradle of the Middle Class: The Family in Oneida County, New York, 1790-1865" (Cambridge University Press, 1981) by Mary P. Ryan.

This book explores Mormon plural marriage, Shaker celibacy, and Oneida Perfectionist group marriage as it originated and evolved in the nineteenth century. Foster treats these experiments in marriage and family not as aberrations from a well=established norm, but as legitimate permutations of the reform impulse of the era. Each of these groups was founded by a charismatic leader, and Foster spends considerable energe probing the mind of Josepm Smith, ann Lee, and John Humphery Noyes. In the process he substantially illuminates the groups he focuses on, helps explain their marriage practices, and draws interesting comparisons between them.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By DesertRider on December 6, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm mormon and I was interested in this perspective on polygamy. I didn't expect the author to be that knowledgeable about mormon history since the section on polygamy was added almost as an afterthought. According to the preface, the book was originally going to be about the shakers and the Oneida community but it was suggested to him that he write about mormon polygamy as well. The section on mormon polygamy is much larger than the sections on the shakers and the Oneida community. I speculate that the reason for that could be that there is a great deal of literature and studies on the mormons to work from. The author has done a great deal of research and understands mormon history very well. His book agrees very well with other books written by the most reputable historians on mormonism. It's puzzling as to why early mormons practiced polygamy. Other books give a factual history about polygamy but this books explores the question of WHY.
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