Embattled Manhood and the New England Writers

TitleEmbattled Manhood and the New England Writers
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsStauffer, John
EditorClinton, Catherine, and Nina Silber
Book TitleBattle Scars: Gender and Sexuality in the American Civil War
PublisherOxford University Press

The Civil War writings of Emerson and Hawthorne point to a crisis of manhood among Northern white men from 1860 to 1870. This crisis coincided with a dwindling of literary output among New England men who had been prominent and prolific writers before the war. During the same decade, however, women’s writings burgeoned. In contrast to their New England male counterparts, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Louisa May Alcott were extremely productive during the 1860s, and jubilant about being treated as part of a national class of writers.  With men under attack, women could fill their shoes. This transformation of culture, along lines of gender, began with the war; and it is highlighted in the work of prominent New England writers, from Stowe, Alcott, Emerson, and Hawthorne to John De Forest and Lydia Maria Child. As their writings reveal, a crisis of manhood during the war led to a backlash against feminine virtues and a masculinization of culture after the war. [Author]

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