By Mark Breitenberg

To fresh stories of Renaissance subjectivity, worried Masculinity in Early sleek England contributes the argument that masculinity is inevitably apprehensive and unstable in cultures that distribute strength and authority in line with patriarchal prerogatives. Drawing from present arguments in feminism, cultural experiences, historicism, psychoanalysis and homosexual reports, Mark Breitenberg explores the dialectic of wish and nervousness in masculine subjectivity within the paintings of quite a lot of writers, together with Shakespeare, Bacon, Burton, and the ladies writers of the "querelles des femmes" debate, specifically Jane Anger. Breitenberg discusses jealousy and cuckoldry anxiousness, hetero and homoerotic hope, humoural psychology, anatomical distinction, cross-dressing and the assumption of honor and recognition. He strains masculine nervousness either as an indication of ideological contradiction and, mockingly, as a efficient strength within the perpetuation of Western patriarchal structures.

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As Anger suggests, the misogynistic depictions of women in the "querelles des femmes" debate are projections of what men fear most about themselves - the purpose being to construct gender and sex differences in order to maintain the basis of masculine superiority. As in all my arguments throughout the book, this dynamic again exemplifies the perceived need among men to construct "woman" in a way that appears to serve their interests but which, in fact, tortures and agitates them at nearly every turn, undermining the masculinity that this idea of "woman" is intended to legitimate.

In the process of writing this book I have been particularly attentive to contemporary Introduction 33 allegories of the issues I discuss, both on a broadly social level but also in my own personal life. Our own version of a "crisis of order" in terms of sexuality and gender has also developed out of difficult economic times, dramatic re-configurations in the nuclear family, a new code of sexual behavior. And if the early modern period witnesses a burgeoning feminism among the women who take up their pens in the "querelles des femmes" pamphlets, our own has been led by the considerable achievements of the feminist movement in the last twenty-five years.

And yet, the very economy of desire that upholds honor and reason as important constituents of masculinity additionally places men under constant attack: the object of masculine desire must be published - known among other men - for it to accrue honor and value for its possessor, but the very same publication leads to the loss of ownership of that object. In the poem, Collatine's honor is achieved only through the publication of Lucrece's celebrated chastity, but it is that publication that impels Tarquin to rape her.

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Anxious Masculinity in Early Modern England by Mark Breitenberg
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