Beneath the Fault Line: The Popular and Legal Culture of Divorce in Twentieth-century America
In Beneath the Fault Line, law professor and historian J. Herbie DiFonzo juxtaposes legal doctrine and practice with popular culture and individual accounts to illustrate the history of divorce in America. DiFonzo's study focuses mainly on the cultural trend toward acceptance. Although he uses formal records such as law texts, statutes, and the decisions of trial and appellate courts, his primary sources are the popular presses of the time, with their opinions, criticisms, and even parodies of divorce and divorce legislation. Most historical accounts contend that twentieth-century reforms were attempts to liberalize family law to conform with the ever-increasing demand for divorce. DiFonzo argues that these legal tactics were in fact attempts to curb divorce rates by recommending less drastic alternatives, such as counseling, and therapy. Beneath the Fault Line is a much-needed examination of divorce in twentieth-century America and should interest students of family law and development, social work, and sociology, as well as a broader audience concerned with the history of the American family.
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