Meanings of Manhood in Early Modern England (Oxford Studies in Social History)


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Meanings of Manhood in Early Modern England Alexandra Shepard Abstract This book explores the diverse and varied meanings of manhood in early modern England, and their complex and often contested relationship with patriarchal principles, in order to add a new dimension to our understanding of gender relations. More This book explores the diverse and varied meanings of manhood in early modern England, and their complex and often contested relationship with patriarchal principles, in order to add a new dimension to our understanding of gender relations. Bibliographic Information Print publication date: Authors Affiliations are at time of print publication.

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Subscriber Login Email Address. Part I Modelling Manhood. Shepard not only forges a new path in gender history, but also opens a window into an often neglected, but significant, facet of social change in early modern England.

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Oxford Studies in Social History Paperback: Clarendon Press; 1 edition September 28, Language: Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

The Meanings of Manhood in Early Modern England, 1560-1640

Alexandra Shepard's book complicates the standing definition of an early modern English patriarchy as argued by those involved in contemporary gender studies. Unlike most gender historians, Shepard contends that patriarchy and manhood stood as separate ideas in early modern England and therefore they should be examined accordingly.

While many of these critics contend that a dominant feature of patriarchy is "men's systematic domination over women" 3 , Shepard argues that it was not a "monolithic system", but rather, it was a "muddled, contradictory, and selectively invoked" ideology 1. Accordingly, Shepherd's definition of patriarchy moves away from male-female dichotomy, positing instead that patriarchy was a code of beliefs produced by elite English society; a code which instituted a hierarchical system that privileged the married male member of the gentry while excluding other males of varying age and social status.

In this respect, patriarchy becomes an exclusive and exclusionary tool affecting the vast majority of females, but also marginalizing those male members of the population who do not, or cannot fit within this narrow demographic. While ideals of womanhood may have been thoroughly examined by gender historians, Shepard points out that the "ways in which normative codes of manhood were constructed" has failed to received similar attention.

Examining the various paradigms of manhood that existed during the eighty year period between to a transitional period during which patriarchal manhood shifts its focus from age and marital status to class-related issues--Shepard elucidates models that resisted or ignored the patriarchal standard. Shepard's argument is that patriarchy is not entrenched, rather it is the product of an anxious elite that is concerned with differing conceptions of manhood, and so generates and attempts to maintain, through the various media available, its own conception of manhood.

The book is divided into two sections, with the shorter first section framing the various moral, political and social literatures that work to communicate this elite conception of normative manhood.

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Identified within the first section of the book are "three principal gateways to patriarchal privilege: Within this tripartite model, Shepard elucidates the place of age and social status in the patriarchal worldview through evidence culled from Galenic and Parcelsian based medical tracts, both of which subordinate youth and old age to a secondary tier in this normative ideal of manhood.

Although rival systems, each contained overlapping sets which compartmentalized the life of a man into distinct categories beginning with intemperate youth, progressing toward an apex of temperance that encompassed anywhere from twenty-five to sixty years of age before descending rapidly into old age and infirmity. Beyond the use of medical tracts, parenting manuals, domestic conduct literature, advice tracts, sermons, and other such media that are used to construct an conception of manhood.

Shepard reminds the reader that since education was restricted to those with wealth and social standing, these medical tracts were intended for an elite readership who understood that manhood, at least patriarchal manhood, was reserved for the elite social class While youth and old men are presented as extreme opposites within this elite patriarchy, unlike the elderly men who are viewed as authorities in cultural matters, the youth is posited as a primary site of passive and active resistance against patriarchal culture.

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This resistance is explored in great detail in the second section of the book via a four chapter -long case study of Cambridge that is itself grounded in the court records of the university. The court records examined prove to contain a wealth of information not only of the university, but also the town of Cambridge, which fell under the university's jurisdiction.

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One of these items ships sooner than the other. Have you struggled with staying calm and reducing anxiety? This path-breaking study explores the diverse and varied meanings of manhood in early modern England and their complex, and often contested, relationship with patriarchal principles. Patriarchal concepts of manhood existed in tension both with anti-patriarchal forms of resistance and with alternative codes of manhood which were sometimes primarily defined independently of patriarchal imperatives. Sponsored products related to this item What's this? Follows the ancient wisdom of the 8 Limbs of Yoga. Examining the various paradigms of manhood that existed during the eighty year period between to a transitional period during which patriarchal manhood shifts its focus from age and marital status to class-related issues--Shepard elucidates models that resisted or ignored the patriarchal standard.

Within the Cambridge case study Shepard attempts to frame males who fraternize solely with their own sex as somehow subverting the patriarchal imperative of marriage. Although she spends six pages attempting to include homosexual activities within the scope of her investigation, she can only conclude that the evidence available "sheds little light" on the subject Likewise, Shepard's linking fraternal camaraderie to the "rejection and inversion of patriarchal codes" seems odd when it's the only game in town at an all-male school that forbids the courting of females However, what Shepard is really after are the "extremes of fraternal camaraderie which permitted and encouraged [ In this respect, the case study works quite well in its examination of this aspect.

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Alexandra Shepard is a University Lecturer in Early Modern British Economic and Social History at Christ's College in Cambridge. Start reading Meanings of Manhood in Early Modern England on your Kindle in under a minute. Alexandra Shepard's book complicates the standing definition. Oxford Studies in Social History. Masculinity is an under-researched area of early modern gender studies; First book to focus on relations between men, as well.

What is of further interest in Shepard's examination of the Cambridge court records is the role that an inchoate capitalism played in undermining early modern patriarchy. If you would like to authenticate using a different subscribed institution that supports Shibboleth authentication or have your own login and password to Project MUSE, click 'Authenticate'.

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Meanings of Manhood in Early Modern England

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