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Palgrave Macmillan

Violent Masculinities

Male Aggression in Early Modern Texts and Culture

ISBN 9781137344748
Publication Date November 2013
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

During the early modern period in England, social expectations for men came under extreme pressure; the armed knight went into decline and humanism appeared. Here, original essays analyze a wide-range of violent acts in early modern literature and culture – everything from civic violence to chivalric combat; from verbal attacks to masochistic suffering; from political assassination to personal retaliation; and from brawls to battles. In so doing, they interrogate the seemingly inevitable connection between masculinity and aggression, placing it in a specific historical context and showing how differences of status, ethnicity, and sexual identity inform masculine ideals.

Jennifer Feather is Assistant Professor of English Literature at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA. She is the author of Writing Combat and the Self in Early Modern English Literature: The Pen and the Sword (Palgrave, 2011).

Catherine E. Thomas is Associate Professor of English at the College of Charleston, USA, where she specializes in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century British Literature. Her essays have appeared in Studies in English Literature, The Journal of Popular Culture, The Upstart Crow, Literature Compass, and several edited collections.

Introduction: Reclaiming Violent Masculinities; Jennifer Feather and Catherine E. Thomas
1. Militant Prologues, Memory, and Models of Masculinity in Shakespeare's Henry V and Troilus and Cressida; Susan Harlan
2. Marlowe's War Horses: Cyborgs, Soldiers and Queer Companions; Timothy Francisco
3. Cutting Words and Healing Wounds: Friendship and Violence in Early Modern Drama; Jennifer Forsyth
4. Virtus, Vulnerability, and the Emblazoned Male Body in Shakespeare's Coriolanus; Lisa S. Starks-Estes
5. Priestly Rulers, Male Subjects: Swords and Courts in Papal Rome; Laurie Nussdorfer
6. 'Warring Spirits': Martial Heroism and Anxious Masculinity in Milton's Paradise Lost; Katharine Cleland
7. King Lear's Violent Grief; Andrew D. McCarthy
8. Wild Civility: Men at War in Royalist Elegy; Catharine Gray
9. Occupy Macbeth: Masculinity and Political Masochism in Macbeth; Amanda Bailey
10. Melancholy and Spleen: Models of English Masculinity in The Famous History of the Life and Death of Captain Thomas Stukeley; Laurie Ellinghausen
Afterword; Coppélia Kahn

Amanda Bailey, University of Maryland, USA
Katharine Cleland, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, USA
Laurie Ellinghausen, University of Missouri, USA
Jennifer Forsyth, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, USA
Timothy Francisco, Youngstown State University, USA
Catharine Gray, University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, USA
Susan Harlan, Wake Forest University, USA
Coppelia Kahn, Brown University, USA
Andrew D. McCarthy, University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, USA
Laurie Nussdorfer, Wesleyan University, USA
Lisa S. Starks-Estes, South Florida St. Petersburg, USA


"A strong contribution to emerging scholarship on early modern masculinities, this exciting collection shows how the achievement of normative manhood depended on the performance of violence. In the turbulent social world of early modern Europe, these essays suggest male aggression signified differently according to distinctions of age, status, and sexuality. These compelling historicist readings of male aggression and suffering illuminate forms of violence ranging from duels to brawls to military campaigns." - Mario DiGangi, Professor of English, Lehman College and the Graduate Center, CUNY, USA
"What did it mean to be a man in early modern Europe? Violent Masculinities challenges the easy association between masculinity and violence, opening up crucial new channels in early modern masculinity studies. The articles here go beyond a simple equation of fictional and historical practice to demonstrate the importance of the place of violence in the early modern mind. With a range of critical approaches, from rhetorical analysis to historical contextualization to the framing of philosophical assumptions, these essays emphasize the textuality of a broad array of critical and historical writings, and give us new insights into what constituted Renaissance manhood." - Jennifer A. Low, Associate Professor of English, Florida Atlantic University, USA
"Violent masculinities - is there any other kind? Cutting their way from Shakespeare to Stukeley, the essays in this volume brutally dispense with the myth that Renaissance men were less violent than their medieval predecessors. With a historical precision and deft close reading, they ask us to consider the many types of violence that make and unmake Renaissance men." - Will Stockton, Associate Professor of English, Clemson University, USA
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