Chapter

Introduction

Joan Tumblety

in Remaking the Male Body

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199695577
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745072 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199695577.003.0001
Introduction

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The introduction explains the rationale and structure of the book. It introduces some of the key physical culturists of the era, stressing the number of them who were physicians whose work served to popularize eugenicist approaches to physical exercise as well as to reinforce the importance of muscle to manliness. It also unpacks what it was that physical culturists meant when they spoke of the importance of ‘rational’ exercise. It offers some suggestions as to why a crisis in virility was so widely heralded in these years, and carves out the main case of the book — that the interwar period was marked by widespread fears of national decline seen through the medicalized frame of the degeneration of the ‘race’, all mediated through the imagined failure of French manhood. The chapter also stresses the transnational nature of this set of interlocking hygienist concerns

Keywords: crisis; virility; manliness; physicians; national decline; degeneration; race; transnational

Chapter.  8270 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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