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Event Details

March 11, 2024
7:00 PM - 8:00 PM


3.5.2024 Marcia Zug collage
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Virtual - Author Talk: Marcia A. Zug Discusses "You'll Do - A History of Marrying for Reasons Other Than Love"

Monday, March 11, 2024

Why have people married through history? When you read about arranged marriages, marriages of convenience, dowries, etc. do you wonder what was the benefit of that particular system? Join us for this enlightening conversation with Professor Marcia Zug, as she discusses the history of marriage, how it's affected so many of our social norms, and if there is a benefit to taking economics and politics out of marriage so it can just be about love.

“The best books are those that prompt you to reconsider long-held assumptions about things we take for granted, and Marcia Zug’s "You’ll Do" fits that definition to a tee. In an illuminating, incisive, clever, and, at times, maddening study, Zug identifies the myriad ways in which our laws and norms both treat marriage as means to an end and undervalue the very different legitimate ends that marriage can serve. As Zug persuasively demonstrates, we’ve become too accustomed to viewing marriage as a means of apportioning rights and benefits in our society — at great cost to both the other values marriage can serve and the other ways we can and should confer those rights and benefits.” — Stephen Vladeck, author of The Shadow Docket

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About You'll Do:

Americans hold marriage in such high esteem that we push people toward it, reward them for taking part in it, and fetishize its benefits to the point that we routinely ignore or excuse bad behavior and societal ills in the name of protecting and promoting it.

In eras of slavery and segregation, Blacks sometimes gained white legal status through marriage.

Laws have been designed to encourage people to marry so that certain societal benefits could be achieved: the population would increase, women would have financial security, children would be cared for, and immigrants would have familial connections.

As late as the Great Depression, poor young women were encouraged to marry aged Civil War veterans for lifetime pensions.

The widely overlooked problem with this tradition is that individuals and society have relied on marriage to address or dismiss a range of injustices and inequities, from gender- and race-based discrimination, sexual violence, and predation to unequal financial treatment.

One of the most persuasive arguments against women's right to vote was that marrying and influencing their husband's choices was just as meaningful, if not better.

Through revealing storytelling, Zug builds a compelling case that when marriage is touted as “the solution” to such problems, it absolves the government, and society, of the responsibility for directly addressing them.

About Marcia:

Professor Zug teaches classes at the University of South Carolina on Family Law, Reproductive Rights, Immigration Law, and Federal Indian Law. She has written numerous articles on these topics that have appeared in publications including The Yale Law Journal, The UC Davis Law Review, The BYU Law Review, The American Indian Law Review, and The Virginia Law and Policy Review. Professor Zug’s family law scholarship focuses on marriage law and policy. Her first book, Buying a Bride: An Engaging History of Mail-Order Matches, was published in 2016 and reviewed in The New Yorker, The Atlantic and The Times Literary Supplement. Her second book, You’ll Do: A History of Marrying for Reasons Other Than Love, will be published in January 2024.

Professor Zug has also written for publications such as The New Republic Magazine, Slate Magazine, The New York Times and The Atlantic. She has been quoted in media outlets such as The Associated Press,, The Guardian, NPR and BBC Radio and advised national organizations such as The Women’s Refugee Commission, The National Indian Child Welfare Association and The Southern Poverty Law Center. In addition, she has been an invited speaker at numerous universities and institutions including Duke Law School, Yale Law School, Dartmouth College, The British Library, The University of Sydney, Queen’s University, Wharton Business School, American University, and Washington University, St. Louis.

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We're thrilled to be collaborating with a multitude of MA Libraries to bring this program to our communities.

This program is sponsored by the Friends of the Ashland Public Library

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