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Masculinity In The Modern West

Overview

Across the Western world "crisis" is the word most commonly used to describe the state of masculinity today, but how new is this idea? Can we identify a time when masculinity was actually stable and secure? Masculinity in the Modern West engages with these questions by examining how traditional ideals about male physical prowess have clashed with the lifestyle changes that accompanied the rise of modern civilization since 1700. In countries like America, Britain, France, Germany and Russia, modernity bolstered ...

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Overview

Across the Western world "crisis" is the word most commonly used to describe the state of masculinity today, but how new is this idea? Can we identify a time when masculinity was actually stable and secure? Masculinity in the Modern West engages with these questions by examining how traditional ideals about male physical prowess have clashed with the lifestyle changes that accompanied the rise of modern civilization since 1700. In countries like America, Britain, France, Germany and Russia, modernity bolstered male dominance in commerce, politics, technology and the world of ideas; yet images of masculinity have continued to be haunted by the negative effects that polite, cerebral, consumerist and sedentary lifestyles might have on the minds and bodies of men. Modernity thus exercises a double logic that supports male privilege while diminishing the physical difference used to legitimate that privilege. By focusing on the male body, this wide-ranging study proposes that "crises" of masculinity may be structural, and thus inescapable, features of life in our world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Forth's ambitious panoramic history of western masculinity is sweepingly broad, yet Forth has a keen eye for the revealing detail. With an analysis as sharp as his style is clear and erudite, Forth's reach never exceeds his grasp. This is a most impressive work!" —Michael Kimmel, Professor of Sociology and editor of Men and Masculinities

"Christopher Forth's survey of masculinity in the West is the first historical synthesis of the rich literature in this field. He puts familiar materials together in surprising new ways and presents readers with some highly original and provocative interpretations that will prove to be important contributions to gender studies and cultural history. The wit and deftness of Forth's style and his well-chosen examples make it a sheer delight to read." —Robert A. Nye, Horning Professor of the Humanities and Professor of History Emeritus, Oregon State University 
 
"Christopher E. Forth's superb synthesis on masculinity in the modern West is a timely and original publication, with the broadest of appeal. It is, however, of specific relevance to historians of medicine and science in society, and will prove an invaluable text in those fields. This is an indispensable and highly engaging book, which will be valued for many years to come." —Sean Brady, Social History of Medicine

"A fascinating meditation on the diverse ways that predictions about the collapse of masculinity have been narrated in the past." —Joanna Bourke, Medical History
 
"Forth has produced both a truly successful, and wonderfully well-written, synthesis of the rich literature on modern masculinity, and a probing, gendered recasting of Elias's civilizing process. It provides abundant insights not only into the history of gender, but also the histories of the body, war, sexuality and diet. This breadth, combined with methodological sophistication, deserves to bring this book a truly wide readership." —Chris Otter, The Ohio State University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781403912404
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 12/1/2008
  • Pages: 298
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

CHRISTOPHER E. FORTH is the Howard Professor of Humanities & Western Civilization at the University of Kansas. His books include Zarathustra in Paris: The Nietzsche Vogue in France, 1891-1918, The Dreyfus Affair and the Crisis of French Manhood, and (co-edited with Bertrand Taithe) French Masculinities: History, Politics and Culture.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Beneath the Veneer of Civilization
• PART I: MAKING AND UNMAKING THE GENTLEMAN
• Four Faces of Civilization Balancing Acts: The Paradox of the Gentleman
• PART II: PERSONAL AND NATIONAL BODIES
• The Armor of Health and the Diseases of Civilization A Diet of Pleasures?
• The Incorporation of Manhood Building Bodies: Violence, Pain and the Nation
• PART III: MANHOOD AND METAMORPHOSIS
• Modern Primitives: Manhood and Metamorphosis
• Men of Steel: Technologies of the Male Body The Last Men?
• Consuming Manhood in the Postwar World
• Conclusion: The Returban of the Repressed

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