Masculinity and the whoremonger in mid-eighteenth century memoirs does whoremongering conform to contemporary ideals of masculinity?

KHAN, Haleema (2016). Masculinity and the whoremonger in mid-eighteenth century memoirs does whoremongering conform to contemporary ideals of masculinity? Masters, Sheffield Hallam University.

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It was Thomas Laqueur who stated that women have commandeered 'gender', whereas masculinity was seen to exist in a 'cultural tradition where no such history was necessary' (1990. 22). Thought to dominate literary and cultural discussion, masculinity became less studied as critics sought to give voice to the female character and experience. Recently however masculinity is coming to the fore of literary and historical criticism, the focus being on understanding masculinity beyond the 'standard', looking at the complexities and contradictions in masculine identity. Yet despite this recent attention on masculinity there remains a male character type that is overlooked in literary criticism: the whoremonger. Seducers are a regular trope in eighteenth-century literature and have been the subject of extensive study. The notorious Lovelace in Richardson's Clarissa; Lothario in The Fair Penitent by Nicholas Rowe; and Mr. B, another of Richardson's constructs in Pamela are all recognised characters that feature in the genre of the seduction narrative. They are recognised characters and yet little work has been done on the whoremonger as a trope; they are largely looked at within the confines of their text. I however have examined the whoremonger as an archetypal character type. Through the portrayal of the whoremonger in mid eighteenth-century literature, I have attempted to understand how illicit sexual conduct conformed to or contradicted contemporary ideals of masculinity. In particular, I have focused on how whoremongering was reconciled with the traditionally acceptable facets of masculine identity including work, sociability and marriage, looking at the tension between refined, sociable qualities of male identity and the base, sordid aspect that is sexuality. I have argued that despite cultural discourses that counselled to the contrary, whoremongering was a regular pursuit of the eighteenth-century gentleman. Furthermore, sexuality constructed masculinity and remained on the eighteenth century peripheral conscience as an accepted aspect of male conduct. I have done so through close analysis of three eighteenth-century texts that imitate memoir form; Cleland's Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (1748); Boswell's London Journal (1762-3); and the anonymously authored The Histories of Some of the Penitents of the Magdalen House (1760).

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Thesis advisor - Peace, Mary [0000-0003-3455-1874]
Additional Information: Director of Studies: Dr Mary Peace.
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Institute of Education
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Jill Hazard
Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2018 14:06
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 02:05

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