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American Manhood: Transformations In Masculinity From The Revolution To The Modern Era Paperback – May 13, 1994

6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0465001699 ISBN-10: 0465001696 Edition: Reprint

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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

A fascinating, accessible, and meticulous piece of scholarship, this study of changing conceptions of manhood breaks new ground in uncovering the internal struggles and shifting paradigms that have informed American men's understanding of themselves. Borrowing the innovative techniques of women's history and gender studies, Rotundo (History/Phillips Academy) shines a powerful light on the diaries, letters, and institutions of white, northern, middle-class men. From a Puritan society that conceived of men largely as ranked members of a community, America, he says, was transformed into a place where a man was an individual who created his own place and status. The qualities that were valued in a man were likewise transformed, from an ideal that called for the suppression of aggressive, competitive urges to an image of manliness that valued nothing more. While boys were once seen as separate from men--at times, more like females; later, as a host of antisocial impulses that need to be suppressed--by the end of the 19th century, men (with Theodore Roosevelt as paradigm) were seen as overgrown boys, their boyish impulses being their best part. Similarly, men's relation to women, while never abjuring the underlying framework of gender spheres, has repeatedly shifted to buttress men's superiority. Sexuality, too, Rotundo says, has changed profoundly, and not always in ways we would think: The 18th century lacked a true concept of homosexuality, allowing adult male friends to spend the night in each others' arms--an act inconceivable to most contemporary heterosexuals. While the slice of society Rotundo examines is narrow, what he reveals goes deep. A pioneering work. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

E. Anthony Rotundo teaches history and develops programs on race and gender at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 396 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Reprint edition (May 13, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465001696
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465001699
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #338,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
I've used this book in my graduate seminar introducing students to the study of the social sciences, and they loved it. I've also used it in my 12th grade gender studies class, and its sections on boy culture and youthful romantic friendships helped students decide that the study of past lives was worthwhile.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Ricky Hunter on December 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
E. Anthony Rotundo has written the book, American Manhood, to show the historical development of the concept of manhood throughout the nineteenth century in order to understand, to a certain extent, the idea of manhood within our own historical time. He focuses on a very narrow group of men for this study: Northern, white Yankees of middle and upper class pretensions. This is an influential group for this period but it does feel that the entire picture of the changes evident in American manhood at the beginning of the twentienth century might have been better understood by including a knowledge of different forms of manhood that were emerging from the burgeoning immigrant population. That being said this study is an important and necessary one to begin the further work needed on this topic and Mr. Rotundo provides many unique and important insights on this topic. An interesting book and a good beginning for more work on the gender politics involved in changing ideas of masculinity.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
I read this book because I am interested in pioneering a new "scouting" program for Christian young people. Rotundo's work has cut new ground; essentially there are few, if any, works available which have made the primary and secondary research connections made in his text. Because I have a greater understanding of previous manhood paradigms, I believe I will be better able to construct the pedogogical parameters of my program. Rotundo's text, incidently, should be read by feminists; it is likely they would develop a more sensitive approach to the objectives they would like to accomplish.
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