By Mark Breitenberg
To fresh reports of Renaissance subjectivity, apprehensive Masculinity in Early glossy England contributes the argument that masculinity is inevitably fearful and risky in cultures that distribute strength and authority in keeping with patriarchal prerogatives. Drawing from present arguments in feminism, cultural reports, historicism, psychoanalysis and homosexual stories, Mark Breitenberg explores the dialectic of hope and anxiousness in masculine subjectivity within the paintings of a variety of writers, together with Shakespeare, Bacon, Burton, and the ladies writers of the "querelles des femmes" debate, in particular Jane Anger. Breitenberg discusses jealousy and cuckoldry anxiousness, hetero and homoerotic hope, humoural psychology, anatomical distinction, cross-dressing and the belief of honor and attractiveness. He strains masculine nervousness either as an indication of ideological contradiction and, ironically, as a effective strength within the perpetuation of Western patriarchal structures.
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Additional resources for Anxious Masculinity in Early Modern England
This normative presence and function of melancholy in the body is capable of becoming a disease - indeed, in many discussions it is always on the brink - if the humour becomes abnormal or unnatural in quantity or quality. English writers use a variety of terms to describe melancholy as a disease, including unnatural melancholy, melancholy adust or black choler; Burton generally refers to it simply as melancholy, as I shall also do here. 3 The potential causes of melancholy are so broad, derived from so many natural, everyday bodily functions and human experiences, that it is not inaccurate to say that melancholy becomes the overarching term for anything imbalanced or excessive - whatever is not normal.
Simpson for allegedly murdering his wife in a jealous rage have become national preoccupations. And in perhaps the most visible display of anxious masculinity, Hollywood has recently released a number of films that may be said to comprise a new genre, one I have not surprisingly termed "anxious masculinity films": the most widely viewed and discussed include "Fatal Attraction," "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle," "Basic Instinct," "Sea of Love" and "Disclosure," films that typically focus on aggressive, independent women who in a variety of ways threaten the men with whom they are involved.
52 In this claim Sowernam perceptively gives the lie to the tendency among men to scapegoat women as the source of their own anxieties, and in a familiar formula I discuss in several chapters, she more importantly exposes the very construction of woman as an Other who either confirms or disrupts masculine identity. This model is also at stake within the "querelles des femmes" debate about the controversy generated by a few actual women who dressed publicly in masculine attire. The "Hie Mulier" and "Haec Vir" pamphlets that describe this occurrence in 1620, if nothing else, demonstrate that the prevailing anxiety about gender roles and identities could be set off by otherwise insignificant events.