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Webb Lecture: Wretched Girls and Wretched Boys

The Medieval Origins of the "European Marriage Pattern"

Thursday, November 10, 2016
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Library and Gallery, Albin O. Kuhn
Judith Bennett, John R. Hubbard Professor Emerita, University of Southern California

Championed by Nike, the United Nations, and many NGOs, the "Girl Effect," a new buzzword in development theory, argues that that economies grow when girls marry later and get more schooling. This lecture skeptically explores its historical equivalent, namely, the notion that because after 1500 European girls began to marry later than their peers elsewhere, "Girlpower" drove the extraordinary economic development of modern Europe. Professor Bennett will show, first, that women began to marry later (or not at all) in Europe long before 1500, and, second, that the impetus for this distinctive "European Marriage Pattern" was abject poverty, not prudential investment in the human potential of girls.  

Bio: Judith Bennett taught women's history and medieval history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Southern California. Her publications include the best-selling textbook Medieval Europe: A Short History; History Matters: Patriarchy and the Challenge of Feminism; and Single women in the European Past, a pathbreaking collection of essays co-edited with UMBC historian Amy Froide. During her university career, Bennett has received numerous teaching awards, research fellowships, and publication prizes. She now divides her time between Portland, Oregon and London, England.

Sponsored by the History Department and the Dresher Center for the Humanities

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