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The Dreyfus Affair and the Crisis of French Manhood (The Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science) Paperback – March 14, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0801883859 ISBN-10: 0801883857 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews


By shifting the main focus from race to gender, from anti-Semitism to masculinity, Forth demonstrates just how deeply rooted in French culture the Dreyfus Affair was.

(Margaret H. Darrow H-France)

Forth provides an important contribution to the study of the scandal and to the broader cultural history of fin-de-siècle France by arguing that the divisive events of the Affair were framed by participants on both sides as a crisis in the French male body


Original and exciting... Forth uses the Dreyfus Affair as a means to explore not only the contingency of manhood but also the subtle ways in which gender norms are implicated in racist imagery, class boundaries, and the construction of the intellectual in fin-de-siècle France.

(Carolyn J. Dean American Historical Review)

Numerous writers have begun to write about the 'crisis of masculinity,' and even more scholars have studied the Dreyfus Affair, but few have combined the two. Forth has provided an imaginative and important book that contributes to our understanding of the cultural and intellectual history of the fin de siècle.

(Rachel G. Fuchs, Arizona State University)

This fascinating book will make it impossible to think of the Dreyfus Affair as simply a battle of ideas, parties, and institutions. Forth shows how both Dreyfusard and Anti-Dreyfusard discourses were saturated with a gendered body imagery that privileged forceful masculinity over the presumptive effeminacy of Jews, anti-militarists, and disembodied 'intellectuals.' Dreyfusards may have won some tactical political battles, but they surrendered the linguistic field to their enemies.

(Robert Nye, Oregon State University)

A nuanced and sophisticated analysis of French manhood.

(Lisa O'Sullivan Medical History)

Forth's analysis... lends important insight into the problematic ways in which this rhetoric has operated historically.

(Judith Surkis Journal of Modern History)

Innovative and articulate, this book will appeal to anyone interested in the Dreyfus Affair, masculinity, or medical discourses in fin-de-siecle France.

(Nancy Fitch English Historical Review)

Erudite and interesting book.

(Rhonda Garelick Men and Masculinities)

A compelling portrait of a cultural crisis, and a book that should both interest the general reader and fascinate the area specialist.

(Joseph Zizek Journal of French Studies)

A rich and provocative study of the Dreyfus affair and the crisis of fin-de-siècle masculinity... This is a valuable book because it presents the Dreyfusards from a new perspective and because it disrupts the teleology that has surrounded the Dreyfus affair.

(Judith F. Stone Patterns of Prejudice)

About the Author

Christopher E. Forth is the Howard Professor of Humanities & Western Civilization at the University of Kansas. He is the author of Zarathustra in Paris: The Nietzsche Vogue in France, 1891–1918 (2001) and Masculinity in the Modern West: Gender, Civilization and the Body (2008).


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Product Details

  • Series: The Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science (Book 121)
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; 1 edition (March 14, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801883857
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801883859
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #881,602 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jeffery Mingo on June 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Forth examines how gender politics in fin-de-siecle France affected the Dreyfusard Affair and its key actors. This book not only brings up gender matters, but Jewish identity, obesity, intellectualism, the birth rate, among others.
The reader can instantly tell that the author had to read much information in order to come up with his thorough and concise descriptions. I am always frustrated that historians haven't picked up many of the important contributions from cultural studies. This book, however, was a good mix of history, Jewish studies, and gender studies.
This book brings up fascinating phenomena. For example, the author stated that stereotypes of French Jewish men as less manly were so pervasive that to call a Jewish man "unmanly" could automatically be understood as both patriarchal and anti-Semitic. Male Dreyfusards considered themselves the saviors of a female Truth, yet discouraged actual women from being too vocal in support of their cause.
This book will make you think about modern problems. Articles say that anti-Semitism is on the rise in France just as in the 1890s. Modern Americans worry about sedentary, middle-class jobs just as the French did more than a century ago.
Despite being impressed with this book, I know that it will frustrate many. The author freely admits that he does not solve whether Dreyfus committed treason or not and that his focus is upon the undercurrents of the debate. Still, social conditions in France are covered more than the Dreyfus Affair. Dreyfusards are analyzed more so than Dreyfus himself. Non-Jewish thinkers are discussed more than Jewish ones. This book goes into descriptions of physique magazines and urban crowds way afield of the main discussion.
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The Dreyfus Affair and the Crisis of French Manhood (The Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science)
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