The first book-length study of writing, men, and masculinity in seventeenth-century France
Over the past three decades, a rich body of scholarship has uncovered the crucial roles women played in seventeenth-century France, a period often reduced to "classical" male authors and "absolutist" kings. But the clearer perspective we now have of women has exposed the need to take a fresh look at men and masculinity. Through his reading of a wide range of canonical and minor texts, Lewis C. Seifert charts a course toward a more complex understanding of gender during this seminal period.
Examining ideals of polite masculine conduct, the figure of the salon man, representations of male same-sex desire, and the case of a male cross-dresser, Manning the Margins shows how elite men defined themselves in relation to women and other men and argues that dominant masculinity cannot always eclipse marginalized masculinities. The theoretical material and historical questions Seifert addresses will appeal not only to scholars and students in French studies and early modern studies, but also to historians as well as those interested in gender studies, sexuality studies, and transgender studies.
Lewis C. Seifert is Associate Professor of French Studies at Brown University. He is also the author of Fairy Tales, Sexuality, and Gender in France, 1690-1715: Nostalgic Utopias and the coeditor (with Todd Reeser) of Entre Hommes: French and Francophone Masculinities in Culture and Theory. Visit the author's website: http://research.brown.edu/myresearch/Lewis_C._Seifert.>
Cover art credit: Abraham Bosse (after Jean de Saint-Igny), "Un Homme marchant de face," La Noblesse française à l’église, c. 1629, BNF, Estampes, collection Hennin, 2243. Reproduced by permission of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.
"Manning the Margins is provocative, timely, and very original and makes a significant contribution to a variety of fields, including French literary studies, early modern history of ideas, women's and gender studies, and masculinity studies. There is no other work that explores these questions in such depth and is so wide-ranging in its implications for a reevaluation of the period as a whole. Seifert's work is groundbreaking."
---Faith Beasley, Dartmouth College
"Manning the Margins innovatively synthesizes gender studies and early modern French texts, challenging absolutist assumptions of hierarchy and harmony."
---Todd Reeser, University of Pittsburgh
"This is a critical and most significant contribution to masculinity studies both because of its thorough review and synthesis of primary and secondary sources on the subject, as well as the critical and theoretical frames, and because of the original and important direction Seifert takes in his analysis."
---Kathleen Perry Long, Cornell University
"Building on and extending feminist criticism, Lewis Seifert proposes a welcome and innovative examination of masculinity as a marked category in French seventeeth-century writing."
—Gary Ferguson, Renaissance Quarterly
"Manning the Margins opens up the scope of early modern gender studies and breaks new ground in its treatment of marginal masculinities."
—Anne E. Duggan, French Review
"Manning the Margins makes a significant contribution to masculinity studies, successfully demonstrating the need to move beyond binary conceptions of gender."
—SCJ, The Sixteenth Century Review
Copyright © 2009, University of Michigan. All rights reserved. Posted June 2009.
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