Brutes in Suits: Male Sensibility in America, 1890–1920 (Gender Relations in the American Experience)

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9781421407647: Brutes in Suits: Male Sensibility in America, 1890–1920 (Gender Relations in the American Experience)

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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The violent and hyper strain of masculinity in modern America is rooted in historical memory, as John Pettegrew demonstrates in this sharply critical study of the cultural construction of sexual difference and the male instinct for aggressiveness. Broadly gauged and deeply researched institutional histories of social science, popular literature, college football, military culture, and the law divulge a master de-evolutionary impulse of projecting brutishness into the distant human and animal past where late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century men could embrace it as the predominant natural trait of manhood.

"[A] vivid, massively researched history of 'hyper-masculine' sensibility at the turn of the twentieth century... An instructive and provocative view of men’s dark side."― Men and Masculinities

"This fascinating and ambitious study explores how an aggressive 'de-evolutionary' model of masculinity was woven into a broad range of American institutions... Pettegrew brings together feminist theory, 'an anthropological ironist perspective' and a wealth of gender studies scholarship to investigate the development of a pervasive mindset of brutish masculinity within a rich selection of archival and popular cultural materials."― Gender and History

"Pettegrew's book remains rigorous and passionate in its narration of the historic appeal as well as the immediate dangers of de-evolutionary masculinity."― American Historical Review

"Pettegrew demonstrates how... Americans projected preexisting gender biases onto the behavior of animals and 'primitive' peoples, thereby rationalizing the aggressive, and often violent, actions of modern-day European-American men as the 'natural' expression of their 'animalistic' core."― Journal of American History

About the Author:

John Pettegrew is an associate professor of history and director of the American Studies Program at Lehigh University and coeditor of the three-volume Public Women, Public Words: A Documentary History of American Feminism.

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Book Description Johns Hopkins University Press. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Paperback. 424 pages. Dimensions: 9.2in. x 6.1in. x 1.3in.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 habitand 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 historys celebration of rugged individualism; the hunting-and-killing genre of popular mens 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. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 9781421407647

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