Degree Year

2010

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

History

Advisor(s)

Leonard Smith
Annemarie Sammartino

Keywords

French masculinity, Crowd psychology, Extreme French Right, Third Republic, French journalism

Abstract

This thesis examines the ways in which four intellectual, weekly French journals of the 1930s mobilized the mobilized the well-worn political symbol of damaged masculinity in order to articulate their unique fears and anxieties. From the inception of the Third Republic, constructed symbols of ideal and deviant masculinity played a critical role in political and popular discourse. My central argument focuses on how they manifest themselves in the debates of polarized political journalism of the 1930s. Leftist and far right wing publications both emphasized the damaged masculinity of their enemies. However, the left primarily used crowd psychology to describe the right as irrational, effeminate and homosexual, while the right focused the notion of an infiltrating Other to highlight the weakness, impotency and unhealthy body of the left and the Third Republic as a whole. Key to both representations is a very physical definition of masculinity. Indeed, the threatening degradations of the male body portrayed in the journals reflect a larger discourse on infection and disease that has deep roots in the divisions that plagued the Third Republic from its inception. Though their focus and tone vary greatly, all four journals use damaged masculinity as a means of articulating the fear of contagion, infection, eroding boundaries and collapsing structure in mid 1930s France. This lexicon constitutes a means of conveying a tone of degeneration and disintegration in French politics.

Included in

History Commons

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