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Manliness in Britain, 1760-1900Bodies, Emotion, and Material Culture$
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Joanne Begiato

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781526128577

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7765/9781526128584

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Brawn and bravery: glorifying the working body

Brawn and bravery: glorifying the working body

(p.168) 5 Brawn and bravery: glorifying the working body
Manliness in Britain, 1760-1900

Joanne Begiato

Manchester University Press

This chapter examines representations of working men’s bodies. Section one explores the nobility assigned to the muscular body, interrogated through the imagined blacksmith and navvy. The second section addresses the role of heroism, another appealing quality, primarily through miners, firemen, and life-boat men. Such strong and appealing working-men offered a more comforting vision of working-class masculinity than that in which they were politically and socially dangerous. Kindness was attributed to both brawn and brave stereotypes, taming the muscular and reckless body. This was not their only function for a middle-class audience, since the same combination of alluring physical and emotional qualities also rendered the working-class male body desirable as a manly ideal. The chapter then shows that the working classes created and disseminated their own highly emotional and material manifestation of working-class manliness on the material culture of trades unions and friendly societies. However, the emotions associated with them were subtly different and deployed in different ways. For middle-class men, the attractive working man was reassuring and admirable, for working-class men he was a measure of their right to be included in the civic polity. (185 words)

Keywords:   Masculinity, Working-class men, Material culture, Emotions, Bodies, Heroism, Kindness, Trades unions, Friendly societies, Middle-class men

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