Manhood Lost: Fallen Drunkards and Redeeming Women in the Nineteenth-Century United States

Manhood Lost: Fallen Drunkards and Redeeming Women in the Nineteenth-Century United States

by Elaine Frantz Parsons

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Overview

In fiction, drama, poems, and pamphlets, nineteenth-century reformers told the familiar tale of the decent young man who fell victim to demon rum: Robbed of his manhood by his first drink, he slid inevitably into an abyss of despair and depravity. In its discounting of the importance of free will, argues Elaine Frantz Parsons, this story led to increased emphasis on environmental influences as root causes of drunkenness, poverty, and moral corruption—thus inadvertently opening the door to state intervention in the form of Prohibition.

Parsons also identifies the emergence of a complementary narrative of "female invasion"—womanhood as a moral force powerful enough to sway choice. As did many social reformers, women temperance advocates capitalized on notions of feminine virtue and domestic responsibilities to create a public role for themselves. Entering a distinctively male space—the saloon—to rescue fathers, brothers, and sons, women at the same time began to enter another male bastion—politics—again justifying their transgression in terms of rescuing the nation's manhood.



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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781421401690
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 07/27/2009
Series: New Studies in American Intellectual and Cultural History
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
File size: 3 MB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Elaine Frantz Parsons teaches American history at Duquesne University.

Table of Contents

Contents:
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1 Volition
2 Manhood
3 Contentment
4 Seduction
5 Invasion
6 Resolution
Conclusion
Notes
Essays on Sources
Index

What People are Saying About This

"Elaine Frantz Parsons brings enormous freshness to a topic—American temperance and anti-temperance debates—about which we thought we knew a great deal. Her research encompasses the ways in which class, race, gender, religion, reform, legal discourse, and scientific knowledge shaped understandings of alcohol, efforts to control or eliminate it, and its symbolic uses. Thanks to her skill in simultaneously reading texts deeply and in locating them within social structures, she found far more complexity, ambiguity, and diversity in anti-alcohol arguments than previous scholars perceived. Her book gives far richer understanding of what was at stake in post-Civil War debates over alcohol, linking the concerns of both proponents and opponents of temperance to larger social and cultural forces in late nineteenth-century America."

Ronald G. Walters

Elaine Frantz Parsons brings enormous freshness to a topic—American temperance and anti-temperance debates—about which we thought we knew a great deal. Her research encompasses the ways in which class, race, gender, religion, reform, legal discourse, and scientific knowledge shaped understandings of alcohol, efforts to control or eliminate it, and its symbolic uses. Thanks to her skill in simultaneously reading texts deeply and in locating them within social structures, she found far more complexity, ambiguity, and diversity in anti-alcohol arguments than previous scholars perceived. Her book gives far richer understanding of what was at stake in post-Civil War debates over alcohol, linking the concerns of both proponents and opponents of temperance to larger social and cultural forces in late nineteenth-century America.

Ronald G. Walters, The Johns Hopkins University

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