Divorce - An Emotional History

Navn på bevillingshaver

Karen Vallgårda


University of Copenhagen


DKK 727,706




Monograph Fellowships


The book presents the emotional history of the divorce revolution in twentieth century Denmark. During this period, divorce changed from being a rare and frequently shameful event to being a common and socially acceptable practice in nearly all parts of society. This development interlaced with a liberalization of legislation and social norms, the consolidation of the welfare state, the fight for gender equality and sexual freedom, and with the attendant weakening of patriarchal family patterns. Introducing new conceptual tools and a new methodology for the history of emotions, the book examines the mutual relationships between these broader transformations and the more intimate, emotional experiences of break-ups and marital dissolution.


The book is scientifically innovative in three interrelated ways. First, it offers the international scholarly community new conceptual history-of-emotions tools - emotional formation and emotional echoes - for the study of family history and other areas. Second, it demonstrates the utility of these tools in a novel methodological approach that combines a wide variety of source materials, including divorce cases, public discourse, fiction, and popular culture. Third, accomplishing this, the book presents the first large-scale scientific historical account of divorce in twentieth century Denmark that unravels changes and continuities in the emotional experiences and negotiations of marital dissolution.


Divorce is a superbly complex historical phenomenon, and no single overarching narrative of chronological development can ever capture or convey the different and changing emotional experiences of marital dissolution. Developing the genre of the academic monograph, the book introduces a kaleidoscopic format composed of seven chapters that probe distinct aspects of divorce as a historical and emotional process. Together with the empirical-theoretical introduction and the meta-reflections in the epilogue, the chapters are organized to provide a methodologically groundbreaking and nuanced portrayal of divorce in the twentieth century.

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