Focusing on the body in every chapter, this book examines the changing meanings and profound significance of the physical form among the Anglo-Saxons from 1880 to 1920. They formed an imaginary—but, in many ways, quite real—community that ruled much of the world. Among them, racism became more virulent. To probe the importance of the body, this book brings together for the first time the many areas in which the physical form was newly or more extensively featured, from photography through literature, frontier wars, violent sports, and the global circus. Sex, sexuality, concepts of gender including women’s possibilities in all areas of life, and the meanings of race and of civilization figured regularly in Anglo discussions. Black people challenged racism by presenting their own photos of respectable folk. As all this unfolded, Anglo men and women faced the problem of maintaining civilized control vs. the need to express uninhibited feeling. With these issues in mind, it is evident that the origins of today’s debates about race and gender lie in the late nineteenth century.
Table of Contents
1. Challenges to Victorian Ideology: The Body, the Doctors, and the New Females
2. Image and Aspiration: The Body Represented in Sex, Fitness, Race, and Scandal
3. Literature: The Struggle with Passion versus Self-Control
4. A New Lust for Violence: Frontiers, Western Novels, and Contact Sports
5. Revealing and Dangerous Acts: The Many Bodies of the Circus
Robert W. Thurston is Professor Emeritus of History at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.