A History of Virility

Written by Alain Corbin, Jean-Jacques Courtine and Georges Vigarello | Translated by Keith Cohen | Columbia University Press | Feb 2016

In these original essays, an international group of scholars, including Arlette Farge, Jean-Paul Bertaud, Christelle Taraud, and Fabrice Virgili, follow the socio-historical evolution of virility, as opposed to masculinity, to unsettle popular accounts of politics and culture. The book begins with ancient conceptions of the male gender, which persisted, with significant alterations, for centuries. While virility was challenged during the Enlightenment, its preeminence was restored by social forms of male bonding in the nineteenth century. Models and codes of virility are chipped away by pacifist, feminist, and gay rights movements during the next hundred years; twentieth-century conceptions of maleness embody a "virility on edge," which adds a fascinating new dimension to our understanding of history.

A major contribution to the nascent field of masculinity studies, this history consults painting, sculpture, literature, philosophy, film, and cultural and sociological critique. It involves fascism, nationalism, liberalism, classicism, colonialism, and war. With the twentieth century delivering one blow after another to hegemonic virility, this book also explores where manliness might be headed next.

About the Author

Alain Corbin is a French historian and specialist of nineteenth-century France. His publications include Women for Hire: Prostitution and Sexuality in France After 1850; The Foul and the Fragrant: Odor and the French Social Imagination; Village Bells; and The Life of an Unknown.

Jean-Jacques Courtine is professor of anthropology at the Sorbonne nouvelle (Paris III) and professor emeritus at the University of California, Santa Barbara. With Georges Vigarello, he edited The History of the Body and The History of the Face.

Georges Vigarello is one of Europe's best-known historians of the body. He has published prolifically on topics ranging from Concepts of Cleanliness and the cultural history of sports to The History of Rape and The History of the Body. Vigarello is research director at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS), and he is the author, most recently, of The Metamorphoses of Fat: A History of Obesity.

More information available on Columbia University press Website

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