When Charles Kingsley accused John Henry Newman of a typically Catholic disregard for truth, his charge that Newman therefore lacked manliness highlighted the importance of religious debates to Victorian perceptions of gender. Moreover, Kingsley’s subsequent polemic reflected more pervasive fears about the potential influence of Catholicism on the British imperial state. Mansex Fine sets controversies such as this in a broad historical context, and interrogates the ideological connections between religion, gender and nation in nineteenth-century Britain. In detailed discussions of important figures whose writing often have a complex relationship to these debates--including not only Kingsley and Newman, but also Gerard Manley Hopkins and Oscar Wilde--David Alderson provides illuminating discussions of the ways in which manliness came to be defined against both Catholicism and revolutionary movements and fed more generally into British imperial culture. Tensions between the celebration of manliness and expressions of male same-sex desire are also an important feature of the book’s concerns.
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David Alderson is Lecturer in Literary Studies at Staffordshire University.
“Mansex Fine avoids theoretical clichés and constructs its argument with detailed analyses of the role domestic models of masculinity fed into and responded to British imperialism.” —Hugh Stevens, University of York
“...Mansex Fine offers today's readers a salutary reminder of Ireland's central place in the imperial imagination of the nineteenth century.” —Victorian Studies
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