Regular commenter and Atomic Librarian Kerry has posted her take on Beth Bailey's book From Front Porch to Back Seat. She had checked it out after we talked about Laura Sessions Stepp's book,
The Young Women Today Are Brazen Hussies Unhooked: How Young Pursue Sex, Delay Love And Lose At Both. One of the reasons you should read Kerry's post is because she walks you through a timeline of courtship in the 20th century and explains the historical factors that led to shifts in courtship rituals.
Then go read Caitlin Flanagan's review of Lynn Peril's new book, College Girls: Bluestockings, Sex Kittens, and Co-Eds , Then and Now, available at Powell's. What is striking is how Flanagan's personal experiences continue to strongly color her interpretations of books on young women's private lives:
In all of these behaviors -- the comforting with food, the lavishing of love on whoever was available to receive it, the dreaming about husbands and households -- I find poignant evidence of the one fact about these girls' lives so obvious that it is rarely considered at all: They had all been abruptly uprooted from their homes. Girls have a different relationship to home than boys do: They are more sentimental about it as well as more critical of its shortcomings, and they are moored to its routines and rhythms more deeply. Even those girls for whom leave-taking is more escape than sorrow enter a period of profound self-examination -- and often melancholy -- when they break from the home where they were raised.
Remember, this is coming from the woman who thinks that getting your own hot meals is an emotionally wounding thing and describes her mother's decision to return to her career as "getting dumped by Mom." Of course she'd assume that leaving home is always traumatic for girls.
So compare and contrast the historical approaches taken in both pieces.