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Dueling, Conflicting Masculinities, and the Victorian Gentleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)605-628
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of British Studies
Volume56
Issue number3
DOIs
DatePublished - 14 Jul 2017

Abstract

This article takes an unexplored popular debate from the 1860s over the role of dueling in regulating gentlemanly conduct as the starting point to examine the relationship between elite Victorian masculinities and interpersonal violence. In the absence of a meaningful replacement for dueling and other ritualized acts meant to defend personal honor, multiple modes of often conflicting masculinities became available to genteel men in the middle of the nineteenth century. Considering the security fears of the period––European and imperial, real and imagined––the article illustrates how pacific and martial masculine identities coexisted in a shifting and uneasy balance. The professional character of the enlarging gentlemanly classes and the increased importance of men's domestic identities––trends often aligned with hegemonic masculinity––played an ambivalent role in popular attitudes to interpersonal violence. The cultural history of dueling can thus inform a multifaceted approach toward gender, class, and violence in modern Britain.

    Research areas

  • masculinity, Victorian culture, violence, honour-based violence, imperialism, colonialism, gender, Gender and Imperialism, cultural history

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