The Sex of Men in Premodern Europe: A Cultural History

Front Cover
Cambridge University Press, Oct 13, 2011 - History - 327 pages
0 Reviews
"While testicles were key signs of the male body and the penis was essential for emission, those markers had to work in conjunction with performative cues, such as standing erect while urinating, growing beards and discharging a certain kind of semen. Some of the most important behavioural signs of the gender of masculinity were thus tied to the biologically sexed male body, and the latter is the focus here. Mutually constitutive, gender and sex were brought into being by anatomy and physiology, and also by actions, as well as being construed through images and words. The Welsh schoolmaster John Owen (d. 1622) neatly encapsulated logocentric virility in his epigram: "God himself is the Word; he made all things with a word. / We men make words; we too are words." Masculinity was an inter-related and variable mix of three main factors: genital signs, somatic deeds (like the mode of pissing), and behavioural indicators (such as choice of dress, and degree of aggressiveness). Case studies examined in this chapter demonstrate the range but not the instability of early modern parameters within which maleness was designated and enacted"--Provided by publisher.

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


paradigms old and new
models and metaphors

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2011)

Patricia Simons is Associate Professor, History of Art, at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She has curated several exhibitions including 'Seeing is Healing? The Visual Arts of Medicine', in 2000, and her previous publications include Patronage, Art and Society in Renaissance Italy (co-editor, 1987).

Bibliographic information