From Library Journal
Bederman (history, Notre Dame) has written a complex but intriguing account of the links between concepts of race, gender, and civilization in late 19th- and early 20th-century America. Focusing on shifting constructions of "manhood" and "civilization," she examines aspects of the lives and careers of Jack Johnson, Ida B. Wells, G. Stanley Hall, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Theodore Roosevelt, and Edgar Rice Burroughs, all of whom illustrate attempts to use these constructions as rhetorical weapons in the struggle to define basic race and gender roles. A densely packed analysis that will be appropriate primarily for scholars in the field of American cultural studies.Anthony O. Edmonds, Ball State Univ., Muncie, Ind.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Manliness & Civilization is a cultural history of gender and race in the United States from 1880 through 1917. In Manliness & Civilization, Gail Bederman investigates the connection between powerful manhood and racial dominance as it was debated, promoted, and resisted during the decades around the turn of the century. Bederman traces a cultural reconfiguration of manhood in which Victorian ideals of self-restraint and moral manliness were challenged by new formulations of aggressive, sexualized masculinity. These new ideals celebrated both the unfettered virility of "racially" primitive men and the refined superiority of "civilized" white men, and Bederman shows how such seemingly contradictory notions came together in the larger discourse of "civilization". She illuminates this tactical interplay between ideologies and evolutionary civilization, racial dominance, and male primitivism by focusing on the lives and works of four very different Americans: G. Stanley Hall, Theodore Roosevelt, Ida B. Wells, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Beterman persuasively suggests that the historical connections between manliness and civilization retain their troubling power to this day. Manliness & Civilization is an important contribution to both American History and to Gender Studies reading lists. -- Midwest Book Review