Male-only preserves: Homosocial environments in the nineteenth century
AbstractThis dissertation explores those areas of nineteenth-century life from which women were excluded. Links are made throughout to literary texts as illustrations of how male-only groups were depicted in literature and how homosociality was represented. As well as describing the national picture, examples of male-only environments in Cheshire, which are still in existence in the twenty-first century, are used. The Introduction describes the background to the project and considers the development of male-only environments in the light of nineteenth-century attitudes to the respective roles of men and women. It reviews expectations with regard to men’s behaviour that were current at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and considers the changes in those attitudes that took place during Queen Victoria’s reign. The first chapter deals with public schools and the consequences for young boys of growing up in a female-free environment, paying particular regard to the aspirations of their parents, the pupils’ everyday lives and their relationships. Chapter 2 deals with adult male associations and societies: gentlemen’s clubs, Freemasonry, and examples of other local groups that survive today. It looks at their rules and rituals, specifically with regard to their attitude to the presence of women. The final chapter is concerned with intense male relationships and nineteenth-century public opinion about them; particular attention is given in this section to literary examples of close friendships between men and to the role of bachelors. Finally, the Conclusion reflects on the complexity of the subject matter and highlights the different perceptions, historical and contemporary, of the changes that took place during the nineteenth century; and considers how much, or little, has changed since then.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
The following license files are associated with this item: