American manhood: transformations in masculinity from the Revolution to the modern era
The first history of American manhood this book sweeps away the groundless assumptions and myths that inform the current fascination with men's lives. Who is a "real man"? What is "naturally" male? How does a "manly" man act? Opposing the views of men's movement leaders and bestselling authors, who maintain that manliness is eternal and unchanging, E. Anthony Rotundo stresses that our concept of manhood is man-made; and like any human invention, it has a history. Rotundo traces the drastic shifts in the meaning of masculinity that have occurred over the past two centuries, and presents a radically different portrait of manhood in earlier times. Two hundred years ago, for example, men were considered more sexually restrained than women. The word "competitive" did not exist then, and the word "effeminate", until a century ago, referred to a fondness for luxury. Also in the nineteenth century, men often wrote each other love letters - even such famous Americans as Alexander Hamilton and Daniel Webster. American Manhood argues that a revolution in our understanding of masculinity has occurred twice over the last two hundred years. In colonial America, "communal manhood" - emphasizing social bonds and a man's place at the head of the household - dominated men's lives. But at the dawn of the nineteenth century a new "self-made manhood" emerged, stressing competition and fusing man's identity to the workplace. A second revolution occurred in the twentieth century as "passionate manhood", based on aggression, combativeness, and sexual desire, became the ideal. Speaking directly to the contemporary dilemmas of American masculinity, Rotundo brilliantly analyzes the moral and psychologicalparadoxes of becoming a man, discussing the bonds between mothers and sons as well as fathers and sons; the origins of an idealized athleticism; the worship of heroic entrepreneurs; patterns of love, marriage, and sexuality; and the roots of disdain for male homosexuality. The book also reveals how changing concepts of manhood helped to define the character of many important modern American institutions, from higher education to sports to politics. Here is a fascinating account of how our understanding of what it means to be a man has changed over time.
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Aaron Olmstead adult Age of Confidence Alice American athletics Beard behavior Bingham bonds Boston boy culture boyhood Canby Charles Russell Charles Van Hise Civil clubs common competitive courtship Daniel Carter Beard Daniel Webster diary domestic early Eaton emotional experience expressed father feelings female feminine Francis Parkman fraternal friends friendship gender girls Henry Henry Seidel Canby History homosexual husband ideal impulses individual intimacy intimate James Cattell John Kendall Kett late nineteenth century letters Lew Wallace lives male youth man's manhood manly marriage Mary masculine middle-class moral mother needed neurasthenia nineteenth century nurture NYHS passions physical play political profession relationship Rites of Passage role romantic romantic friendship Roosevelt Rothman Russell Papers Sedgwick sense sexual SHSW social society Theodore Theodore Roosevelt tion twentieth century Victorian virtue wife William Dean Howells woman women wrote Yankee Family young men's