Amorous Liberty: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Gendered Situations in Free Love Publications in the Mid 1800s

Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Paula Brush

Second Advisor

Dr. Thomas VanValey

Third Advisor

Dr. Gerald Markle

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Gwen Raaberg


Through a qualitative critical discourse analysis of Free Love publications that originated from utopian communities between the years 1850 and 1900, this research compares the standpoints of women and men who contributed articles to Free Love publications. The purpose of this research is to examine the situated knowledge of women and men who participated in the Free Love movement and contributed to its exposure by writing and publishing their ideas, arguments and concerns. By analyzing the words of participants this research describes the concept of Free Love in its historical context and exposes the sex and gender power differentials within the movement and external to it. The research reveals the Free Love movement was a complex form of political resistance against institutionalized gender inequality. The importance of this work lies in its potential to inform current political resistance of the inequality inherent in legislation that restricts sexual freedom in the United States.

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