Three histories, two novels: a selection of great works on early modern Europe
by Julie Hardwick
Natalie Z. Davis, The Return of Martin Guerre (1984)
A now classic work by the prominent historian exploring a sensational early modern family drama and how it played out in court in a village in southern France
Stephanie Coontz, Marriage, A History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage (2005)
A provocative look at the changing expectations and practices of marriage in American history
Scott Sandage, Born Losers: A History of Failure in America (2006)
A lively counter narrative to the usual histories of capitalism that highlights the centrality of risk, struggle, and failure as key features of the individual and family struggles involved in the transformation of economic practices.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile: or On Education
An eighteenth-century bestseller, Emile criticized “traditional” families and advocated for a new mode of modern companionate, child-centered marriage that could be the literal cradle of citzens for democracies.
Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall: A Novel (2009)
A twenty-first-century bestseller and the 2009 Booker Prize winner, Wolf Hall includes a wonderful representation of family life in Tudor London intertwined with its better known narrative of the rise of Thomas Cromwell as a key adviser to Henry VIII