The Johns Hopkins University Press

Gender Relations in the American Experience

Joan E. Cashin and Ronald G. Walters, Series Editors

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press

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Gender Relations in the American Experience

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Brutes in Suits

Male Sensibility in America, 1890–1920

John Pettegrew

Are men truly predisposed to violence and aggression? Is it the biological fate of males to struggle for domination over women and vie against one another endlessly? These and related queries have long vexed philosophers, social scientists, and other students of human behavior. In Brutes in Suits, historian John Pettegrew examines theoretical writings and cultural traditions in the United States to find that, Darwinian arguments to the contrary, masculine aggression can be interpreted as a modern strategy for taking power. Drawing ideas from varied and at times seemingly contradictory sources, Pettegrew argues that traditionally held beliefs about masculinity developed largely through language and cultural habit—and that these same tools can be employed to break through the myth that brutishness is an inherently male trait. A major re-synthesis of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century manhood, Brutes in Suits develops ambitious lines of research into the social science of sexual difference and professional history’s celebration of rugged individualism; the hunting-and-killing genre of popular men’s literature; that master text of hypermasculinity: college football; military culture, war making, and finding pleasure in killing; and patriarchy, sexual jealousy, and the law. This timely assessment of the evolution of masculine culture will be welcomed and debated by social and intellectual historians for years to come.

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Horse Trading in the Age of Cars

Men in the Marketplace

Steven M. Gelber

The trading, selling, and buying of personal transport has changed little over the past one hundred years. Whether horse trading in the early twentieth century or car buying today, haggling over prices has been the common practice of buyers and sellers alike. Horse Trading in the Age of Cars offers a fascinating study of the process of buying an automobile in a historical and gendered context. Steven M. Gelber convincingly demonstrates that the combative and frequently dishonest culture of the showroom floor is a historical artifact whose origins lie in the history of horse trading. Bartering and bargaining were the norm in this predominantly male transaction, with both buyers and sellers staking their reputations and pride on their ability to negotiate the better deal. Gelber comments on this point-of-sale behavior and what it reveals about American men. Gelber's highly readable and lively prose makes clear how this unique economic ritual survived into the industrial twentieth century, in the process adding a colorful and interesting chapter to the history of the automobile.

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Jolly Fellows

Male Milieus in Nineteenth-Century America

Richard Stott

“Jolly fellows,” a term that gained currency in the nineteenth century, referred to those men whose more colorful antics included brawling, heavy drinking, gambling, and playing pranks. Reforms, especially the temperance movement, stigmatized such behavior, but pockets of jolly fellowship continued to flourish throughout the country. Richard Stott scrutinizes and analyzes this behavior to appreciate its origins and meaning. Stott finds that male behavior could be strikingly similar in diverse locales, from taverns and boardinghouses to college campuses and sporting events. He explores the permissive attitudes that thrived in such male domains as the streets of New York City, California during the gold rush, and the Pennsylvania oil fields, arguing that such places had an important influence on American society and culture. Stott recounts how the cattle and mining towns of the American West emerged as centers of resistance to Victorian propriety. It was here that unrestrained male behavior lasted the longest, before being replaced with a new convention that equated manliness with sobriety and self-control. Even as the number of jolly fellows dwindled, jolly themes flowed into American popular culture through minstrelsy, dime novels, and comic strips. Jolly Fellows proposes a new interpretation of nineteenth-century American culture and society and will inform future work on masculinity during this period.

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