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From Front Porch to Back Seat: Courtship in Twentieth-Century America Paperback – Illustrated, August 1, 1989
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From gentleman callers to big men on campus, from Coke dates to "parking," From Front Porch to Back Seat is the vivid history of dating in America. In chronicling a dramatic shift in patterns of courtship between the 1920s and the 1960s, Beth Bailey offers a provocative view of how we sought out mates-and of what accounted for our behavior. More than a quarter-century has passed since the dating system Bailey describes here lost its coherence and dominance. Yet the legacy of the system remains a strong part of our culture's attempt to define female and male roles alike.
―St. Louis Post-Dispatch
As entertaining as it is informative. Bailey documents sources from Margaret Mead to advertising's hokey hype in her comprehensive analysis of the rituals of American amore, exploring the themes of 'control, competition, consumption, the sexual economy, etiquette and gender.'.
A fascinating study of an important part of our recent past.
From the Back Cover
- ASIN : 0801839351
- Publisher : Johns Hopkins University Press; Illustrated edition (August 1, 1989)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 208 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780801839351
- ISBN-13 : 978-0801839351
- Reading age : 18 years and up
- Item Weight : 10.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.88 x 0.47 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #908,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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The main conclusion Baily reaches is that dating changed with changing patterns of consumption which resulted in different expectations of behavior from each partner. An activity originally thought of as courting and centered in the woman's home giving her and her parents more control over the activity would shift outside the home to a more public setting giving more license to the man. As the name suggests this would often lead to fooling around in parked cars which developed their own expectations often putting an undue burden on the lady.
The author does a good job of using the sources to tease out the changing attitudes on dating and courtship and while many of the attitude and view on relations between the sexes that she cites seem extremely dated and even dangerous in our time period, the author does a good job of putting them in their proper historical context and the criticism that was leveled at them during that time. I would have liked to see her research expanded out to other groups such as working-class young people and non-white young people but I am not sure the available sources would have allowed this and the author makes clear from the beginning that her study will not cover these topics.
As far as I can tell there are not a lot of books on the history of dating but this one is a very good one that is well researched and written and that will hopefully spark more research in this field.
I'm particularly interested in the history of the teenager, which this book was mildly helpful for. If you're more interested in gender relations or 20th-century American culture, you may find this work more meaningful.
This book, by far, is the most informative and well-researched one yet.
As I implied in my Review Title, the book is written in a very academic style and abounds in footnotes.
Bailey's book is great for reading and will take only a day to finish (143 pages). Also, it is a really nice looking book. It covers the roles of consumption and competition in courtship, and the understanding that courtship has changed in American society. I give the book four stars.