April 17, 2009: 18th Century Seminar
Melinda Rabb, Professor of English at Brown University, will speak from 12-1 in Ham Smith 101: "Parting Shots: Fantasies of Corporeality and the Male Body at War."
Attempts to account for changes in ideas of masculinity during the eighteenth century have charted a course of development from the Restoration libertine to the sentimental hero. But a different understanding of male identity emerges from a consideration of the importance of war, especially the radical ideology and physical violence of the Civil Wars, in shaping English?speaking culture. Beginning in the 1640’s, images of disciplined troops marching in perfect formation circulate in print along with descriptions of soldiers shattered into pieces by gunpowder. These images introduce new terms of male embodiment that refract and reappear in later works of the literary imagination. The talk will focus on John Elton’s The Compleat Body (1650), narratives by battlefield eyewitnesses, and passages from Milton, Manley, Defoe, Swift, and Sterne.