Gerry Milligan

in Renaissance and Reformation

ISBN: 9780195399301
Published online June 2012 | | DOI:

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)
  • Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy


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The question of masculinity lies at the heart of masterpieces of Renaissance art, philosophy, and literature. Proscriptive and prescriptive literature formed a discourse of ideal fathers, priests, courtiers, and warriors, and these ideals were then reified in fictional texts as well as in pigment and marble. Such textual and artistic ideals of masculinity were by nature not obtainable by real men, a matter that was the cause of a gender anxiety that has received much scholarly attention. Furthermore, masculinity in the Renaissance was frequently discussed in contrast to its negative effect, effeminacy. For example, the development of the civilized man, tempering emotion and demonstrating politeness, was also at risk of being condemned as effeminate. In this case, men would have been slandered for their concern with decorum rather than action. In other instances, the censure of effeminacy was used in contexts quite far from our own modern understandings of the term. For example, the term was often directed toward men who exhibited extraordinary heterosexual desire. Thus, to study masculinity in the Renaissance is to consider historical context as well as rhetorical modes. It is a field that comprises the investigation of the characteristics of manhood as well as the language that condemned effeminacy. There is a general consensus that Renaissance masculinity studies owe their beginnings to feminist scholarship of the past several decades. It is also notable that Renaissance scholars working on masculinity often do not exhibit much affinity with the larger academic field of so-called Masculinity Studies, possibly because of the latter’s propensity to consider only modern questions. Because Renaissance investigations of masculinity typically address the same topics that one would expect in any critical analysis of the period (war, honor, economics, love, sexuality, religion, etc.), it is necessary to determine a working definition of what is included in this bibliography. In sum, this bibliography seeks to indicate publications that address any discourse that arises when one considers “men” in the Renaissance and that engage such discourses with particular questions regarding gender formation. Primary works have not been listed, except when part of anthologized readers. However, those seeking a reader for primary sources might note that the secondary literature does point to an unwritten canon in literary, visual, and material cultures.

Article.  10044 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

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