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CHAPTER 2. Studies of Ancient Masculinity

Mark Masterson

Subject Classics, Cultural Studies
Gender Studies » Gay and Lesbian Studies
History » Gender History

Key-Topics gender

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405195720.2014.00004.x


When we study possessors of the male body in the ancient world and ancient masculinity, when we study ancient men as “men,” we call into question the assumption, widely extant in ancient sources, that man is synonymous with humanity in toto. On just this basis, the investigation of men as men (or whatever we want to define this area of inquiry—and there are live questions here that I will touch upon throughout this chapter) gives the scholar an opportunity to adopt a critical standpoint on ancient societies. This work, however, is by no means easy: deconstructing the universal and rendering marked the unmarked is hard work ( Adams and Savran 2002 : 2; Traister 2000 : 281). Born from gender studies in the final decades of the twentieth century, the academic study of masculinity is well established now. Readers interested in the genesis and subsequent history of masculinity studies should consult Adams and Savran (2002 : 3–7; also Arnold and Brady 2011 : 1–6 and Tosh 2011 ). In spite of its considerable development, the study of masculinity nonetheless can raise questions for political and methodological reasons. In the first place, a not infrequent characterization abroad in western culture of men themselves as victims (in addition to women and sexual minorities) of masculine gender has the tendency to curdle into a discourse of victimhood that sees feminism as an oppressor ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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