‘To Take a Manly Part’: constructions of masculinity in the East Anglian elite,1750-1835

Davies, Caroline (2020) ‘To Take a Manly Part’: constructions of masculinity in the East Anglian elite,1750-1835. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This thesis offers a study of elite masculinity during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It focuses on the life and experience of four men: The Right Honourable William Windham, John Patteson, Samuel Whitbread II and Edward Harbord, 3rd Lord Suffield. Utilising personal correspondence, including diaries and travel journals, this thesis explores how men in positions of power and authority responded to and shaped contemporary constructs of masculinity and how these constructs were evident as both an interiorised sense of identity and lived out experience.

The research demonstrates how each of these men consciously adapted their masculine selves to maximise opportunity and success. William Windham displays a multi-layered example of elite masculinity which was complex and idiosyncratic revealing a man whose own view of himself differed greatly from his public persona. John Patteson represents a man whose masculinity was deliberately shaped by his mother with the intention that he acquire the manly accomplishments required for recognition and respect in elite society. Samuel Whitbread was a man whose gendered experience of political ‘celebrity’ was based on a distinctively ‘English’ masculinity emphasising physical appeal, plain-speaking and truthfulness but which resulted in ostracism and decline. Edward Harbord’s commitment to political ‘independence’ and humanitarian notions of reform highlight a brand of masculinity characterised by faith, determination and an obligation to serve others.

Building on the work of Dror Wahrman, Mark Rothery, Henry French and Matthew McCormack the thesis puts forward the idea that elite men and their families paid very close attention to the rehearsal, reinforcement and reproduction of traditional constructs of ‘English’ masculinity as essential markers of manliness. In doing so, they showed a greater sense of themselves as ‘active’ individuals - men who were able to secure both personal and political reputation at a time of acute national stress.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of History
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 12 Jul 2022 10:22
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2022 10:22
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/85388

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