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reviews 155 suasive case" that Chancer's son was fathered by John of Gaunt. "It is possible, moreover, that Geoffrey knowingly married the pregnant Philippa as a favor to John /and so/ acuuiredfor himself long-term social andfinancial security at court " (58). From this ilfollows "thai thepoet musi have felt profound ambivalence toward his wife" (my emphasis), enough, indeed, to become virulently misogynistic. The black and white thinking in this passage is the fundamental flaw in this book which demands what we be marxist, not feminist—which urges us to move swiftly towards a utopia in which our struggles within and against ideology will be over and we can confidently consign Chaucer to the dustbin ofhistory. PATRICIA ALDEN David G. Pugh. Sons ofLiberty: The Masculine Mind in Nineteenth Century America. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1983. 186pp. $27.95 (cloth) Michael Paul Rogin. Subversive Genealogy; The Politics and Art ofHerman Melville. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1983. 354 pp. $22.95 (cloth). Sons ofLiberty and Subversive Genealogy are similar in using psychoanalysis in the service ofa critique of nineteenth century American politics and ideology. Both works reveal the continuing relevence ofpsychoanalysis to progressive interpretations ofhistory, but both also reveal the continuing problems of psycho-historical methods. Pugh'sSons ofLiberty spans theyears 1820to 1890 and is divided into fourchapters. First, Pugh analyzes the Jacksonian mystique of manliness as represented by the legendary figure of Jackson and as shaped by the frontier, economic competition, and new technology; second, he examines the way men viewed women as an index oftheir anxiety over masculinity; third, he traces the Jacksonian legacy in the Gilded Age; and finally, he argues that the nineteenth century masculine ethos is still alive today, notably as expressed in popular culture. Those familiar with feminist criticism or the course ofAmerican Studies over the past two decades will not find very much that is new here, but they will find an articulate, useful summary and discussion ofmajor studies of Pugh's subject. Feminist criticism as such, however, is in the main conspicuously absent (there is no reference to Annette Kolodny's work, for example) nor are Marxist treatments ofthe topic represented. Professing eclecticism, Pugh is actually rather narrow in his application of an ahistorical "psychosexual " explanation ofmasculinity. The ahistorical view ofhis subject is not what Pugh intends to present, but it is nevertheless the consequence ofhis method: As in the Age ofJackson, the process ofasserting masculinity in the Gilded Age involved an unconscious translating ofa cultural situation into psychosexual terms to define it and then a displacing or projecting ofthe anxieties ofthat situation onto others, (p. 101) The formula is more accurate as applied to Pugh's method than to his subject. The "psychosexual " is considered asan entity apart from "cultural situation" and ofthe perception ofothers, and is thus conceived as an ahistorical category which finds a particular historical expression. This makes history secondary to what is in fact a universalized historical category, a set ofpsychosexual relations abstracted from its determination within a particular cultural situation. Pugh's study masks an archetypal approach, and he seems halfaware ofthis. His insistence that the shaping force offrontier life and the new sexual division oflabor (not his term) under capitalism made masculine sexism more virulent than before seems aimed at anchoring his analysis in history. But we are notgivenacomparativeperspective, historically orgeographically. We are only given an extension ofthe masculine legend, though a negative one. Consider the following psychologisms: ( 1 ) "men vented their energies, their passions, and their resentments toward women in a frenetic attack on the virgin land" (p. xviii); (2) the male . . . felt compelled to reject maternal influence, whether it be the symbolically maternal Bank or the actual mother" (p. 37); "Americans began seeking ways to stabilize themselves . . . they came to realize that unrestrained democracy and rampant nationalism would solve neither their own problems nor the world's" (p. 94). Does the 156 the minnesota review frontier foster the masculine ideal or does it provide an opportunity for its expression? Was the U.S. Bank rejected as a symbolic mother or was this a rhetoric employed for political ends? Are the causes of social change to be found in consciousness, so that social conditions change...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 155-157
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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