A lecture about law and love



by Taylor Spaw

A Harvard history professor is coming to campus to discuss the effects of public government on something private: love.

The Gender and Women’s studies department will kick off its 2010-2011 speaker series with “Marriage on Trial” at the Singletary Center on Thursday . The presentation is co-sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences, and the history and anthropology departments and will be free and open to the public.

At 4 p.m. on Thursday, Nancy Cott will speak about the some of the legal aspects of same sex marriage raised by the California Case, Proposition 8. Cott gave testimony during the Proposition 8 trials.

She is best known, however, as “a pioneer in the field of U.S. women’s history,” according to Patricia Cooper, chair and associate professer in the UK’s gender women’s studies department.

Cott’s books, “The Bonds of Womanhood” and “The Groundling” are also well known in the field.

She was asked to speak during the trial because of her book “Public Vows: A History of Marriage in the Nation.” In her book, Cott analyzed the evidence supporting the government’s regulation of marriage for specific gain. This will be the main focus of “Marriage on Trial.”

“To me it is very special to have her (Cott) here at UK,” Cooper said. “She is a founding mother of U.S. women’s history, and she is also a great mentor to several generations of women historians and historians of women.”

Cooper said Cott’s lecture is part of what will be a series of lectures for the department called “States of Love.”

“We are collectively thinking about how the state, i.e. the government, intervenes in the seemingly private world of love,” Cooper says.