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Palgrave Macmillan

Restless Men

Masculinity and Robinson Crusoe, 1788-1840

ISBN 9781137348944
Publication Date June 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

Around the turn of the nineteenth century Robinson Crusoe turns up remarkably often in material dealing with the emerging Australian colonies. The call to adventure and do-it-yourself guide to settlement in Daniel Defoe's novel resonated strongly with British explorers and settlers. But Crusoe did not make men restless: restlessness was the expression of unresolved tensions in men's lives between ideals, aspirations, traditions and material circumstances, the tension between what men felt they should do and what was actually possible. Crusoe seemingly reconciled these tensions, showing that a man could be both wild and domesticated. Karen Downing traces the links in a discursive chain by which a particular male subjectivity was forged. Through the rarely studied interrelationship between public representations of manliness and self-representations by men in more private writings, she reveals how restless men took their restlessness with them, so that the Australian colonies never were a solution to men's anxieties.

Karen Downing is a Visitor in the School of History at The Australian National University, Australia. She has a PhD from the Australian National University where she has taught gender and historiography and theory courses. Currently she is the assistant editor of History Australia.

Introduction: Restless men
1. Confined by the Gout – Perceptions of Men's Physical Health
2. The Ecstasies and Transports of the Soul – Emotional Journeys of Self-discovery
3. My Head Filled Early With Rambling Thoughts – Raising Boys and Making Men
4. Satisfied with Nothing but Going to Sea – Seafaring Lives and Island Hopes
5. To Think That This Was All My Own – Land, Independence and Emigration
6. The Middle Station of Life – the Anxieties of Social Mobility
7. A Surprising Change of Circumstances – Men's Ambivalent Relationship with Authority
8. The Centre of All My Enterprises – the Paradox of Families
Conclusion: 'Robinson Crusoe untravelled…'


"Downing's text is very neatly situated in the historiography of masculinity ... [it] has made a valuable and engaging contribution to the literature on masculinities. Her scholarship is exceptional and her book deserves to be read by all who are interested in this field." - Australian Historical Studies
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