How did one act like a modern man in postwar Canada? With a great deal of difficulty. During the Great Depression and Second World War, many men were first out of work and then away from their families. After the war came attempts to re-establish the traditional gender hierarchy by emphasizing men’s modernity, allegedly superior rationality, and ability to handle risk, but the strategy had contradictory repercussions. The Manly Modern: Masculinity in Postwar Canada traces the history of what happened when men’s supposed modernity became one of their defining features.
Through a series of case studies covering such diverse subjects as car culture, mountaineering, war veterans, murder trials, and a bridge collapse, Christopher Dummitt argues that the very idea of what it meant to be modern was gendered. A strong current of anti-modernist sentiment bubbled just beneath the surface of postwar masculinity, creating rumblings about the state of modern manhood that, ironically, mirrored the tensions that burst forth in 1960s gender radicalism.
The first major book on the history of masculinity in Canada, The Manly Modern will appeal to scholars and students in history, gender studies, and cultural studies, as well as to readers interested in the history and social construction of gender.
A revised version of Dummitt’s doctoral dissertation, the book is a series of case studies…. The result is a polished, well-written, and provocative exploration of two phenomena that remain understudied by Canadian historians. …The Manly Modern is a stimulating and valuable study.
Dummitt’s work presents a broad, innovative, and powerful approach to our understanding of being both manful and modern during the transforming postwar decades that climaxed in the tumultuous 60s.
1 Introduction: The Manly Modern
2 Coming Home
3 At Work
4 In the Mountains
5 Before the Courts and on the Couch
6 On the Road
7 Conclusion: Manly Modernism in Hindsight
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