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A Magna Carta for Marriage: Love, Catholic Masculinities and the Humanae Vitae Contraception Crisis in 1968 Britain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
JournalCultural and Social History
Early online date15 Jul 2019
Accepted/In press2 Jul 2019
E-pub ahead of print15 Jul 2019


King's Authors


When Humanae Vitae (the Vatican’s encyclical banning the contraceptive pill) was released in July 1968, it was the culmination of years of intense speculation and well-founded anticipation of a change in papal teaching on birth control. This article explores the gendered ambiguities embedded within this watershed document and its role as a touchstone for, paradoxically, both progressive and conservative interrogations of Catholic masculinities. It argues that the encyclical was a catalyst for refashioned lay understandings of married love and sexual intimacy throughout ‘middle England’ and thereby offers a new perspective on longstanding debates about the sixties, permissiveness and secularization in Britain.

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