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Durham e-Theses
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(The) man, his body, and his society: masculinity and the male experience in English and Scottish medicine c.1640-c.1780.

MONTGOMERY, ALISON (2011) (The) man, his body, and his society: masculinity and the male experience in English and Scottish medicine c.1640-c.1780. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis examines the relationship(s) between medicine, the body and societal codes of masculinity in England and Scotland between c.1640 and c.1780. It responds to the way in which the men in histories of post-1660 masculinity are often disembodied, and to the comparative absence of men’s gendered experiences from the history of medicine. Its findings show that in both centuries the experience of being a man with a body that was the site of health and sickness was an open, candid, and often communal, one, inside and outside of the formal medical encounter. Thus, and on both sides of 1700, ill men had full freedom in the pursuit and acceptance of medical, familial and social assistance, while their physical suffering, and associated emotional distress, was met with sympathy. With their sick bodies the sites of honest self-examination and open discussion, it was in part this very public nature of their sicknesses that allowed men, as a gender and as individuals, independence and agency in their non-commercial health care. Indeed, later-seventeenth- and eighteenth-century men suffered no constraints in their ability to respond to the vulnerabilities of their bodies, even where this involved behaviours or attributes allegedly associated with women and femininity, or inconsistent with ideals of active, independent, masculinity.

These findings indicate, therefore, great continuity across the period 1640-1780, and not only in masculine ideals of and involving the male corporeality. There seems to have been significant consistency across time in men’s social and medical experiences of both sickness and their pre-emptive preparation for it, and in an apparent collective self-confidence concerning their corporeal masculinity, their sex, and, possibly, even their sexual potential. Indeed, these sources suggest that seventeenth- and eighteenth-century men had a resilient sense of self-identity (and personal masculinity), conceptually separable from the corporeal body and its known fragilities.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:England, Scotland, Men, Masculinity, Body, Illness, Health, Seventeenth Century, Eighteenth Century, Early Modern, Long Eighteenth Century, Health
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > History, Department of
Thesis Date:2011
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:03 Apr 2012 15:15

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