Added: September 5, 2015 – Last updated: September 5, 2015
Author: Kelly Alisa Ryan
Title: Regulating Passion
Subtitle: Sexual Behavior and Citizenship in Massachusetts, 1740-1820
Thesis: Ph.D. Thesis, University of Maryland at College Park
Pages: vii + 478pp.
Link: DRUM: Digital Repository at the University of Maryland (Free Access)
“Regulating Passion” explores how sexual behavior affected the construction of citizenship and the body politic in Massachusetts between 1740 and 1820. Patriarchal regulation of the sexual behavior of Massachusetts residents facilitated the “sexual management of citizenship,” a term used in this dissertation to describe how sexual regulation reinforced subordinate statuses and created a debasing sexual rhetoric regarding Native Indians, African Americans, poor whites, young whites, and white women, and, in turn, denied each group access to citizenship. Elite white men’s regulation of sexual behavior constructed their subordinates as dependent, lustful, irrational, and immoral, which limited their ability to make claims to citizenship. Massachusetts residents also used sexual behavior and rhetoric as acts of resistance against and as a tool to enter the hierarchical body politic. This dissertation is based on my analysis of the court records of the General Sessions of the Peace and the Supreme Judicial Court, personal manuscripts, charitable organization records, government records, and church records from Massachusetts. Tracts and newspapers emanating from Massachusetts were also extensively researched.