This first collection of essays by Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, one of the leading historians of women, is a landmark in women's studies. Focusing on the "disorderly conduct" women and some men used to break away from the Victorian Era's rigid class and sex roles, it examines the dramatic changes in male-female relations, family structure, sex, social custom, and ritual that occurred as colonial America was transformed by rapid industrialization. Included are two now
classic essays on gender relations in 19th-century America, "The Female World of Love and Ritual: Relations Between Women in Nineteenth-Century America" and "The New Woman as Androgyne: Social Order and Gender Crisis, 1870-1936," as well as Smith-Rosenberg's more recent work, on abortion,
homosexuality, religious fanatics, and revisionist history. Throughout Disorderly Conduct, Smith-Rosenberg startles and convinces, making us re-evaluate a society we thought we understood, a society whose outward behavior and inner emotional life now take on a new meaning.