The nature of domestic violence in the early modern period was of vital importance not only to individuals but also to social units of various complexities. What was happening in homes commanded the attention of ecclesiastical authorities who wrote numerous conduct books on the grounds and acceptable limits of spousal abuse. Additionally, theatre professionals picked up on this popular social issue and presented it in plays for the public stage as well as in closet drama. In this way ecclesiastical writers and theatricals used domestic violence to cement the conceptualization of the family as inherently violent, to reinforce secular authority as modeled on patriarchal authority, and to install the analogy of the commonwealth to the household. Once domestic violence became so entangled with the concept of social order and hierarchy, it became impossible to curb it, or even define its just cause.
Corey Hansen, ’03 Maddock, ND
Majors: English, Medieval and Early Modern Studies
Sponsor: Kirilka Stavreva