Research Connections: In Goethe's Novel Families, Love Is All That Matters

July 22, 2016

What forms can families take? Can a family be effective only if it consists of a biological pairing of a man and a woman who produce their own offspring? Or can other combinations—two women or two men raising children, or couples with adopted children—be just as loving and supportive? In his early 19th-century literary works, Johann Goethe pointedly raises such questions—still debated today—and concludes that what really matters is not the gender of spouses and partners, or the lineage of their children, writes Susan Gustafson, the Karl F. and Bertha A. Fuchs Professor of German Studies, in her recently published book, Goethe's Families of the Heart (Bloomsbury Academic).