Book review: Derek G. Neal, The Masculine Self in Late Medieval England. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2008. Pp. xiii, 303. $68 (cloth); $25 (paper)

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Dance Article reviewpeer-review

Abstract

This book is ambitious in its scope, setting out to uncover how medieval men responded to ideals and expectations, not just in terms of their actions as described in a wealth of documentary and literary sources, but on the level of the individual psyche, too—a bold undertaking for a period that offers so little in the way of “personal testimony.” Neal’s solution to this problem is to take an interdisciplinary approach, combining a sensitive reading of court records with the evidence of didactic texts, letters, and romances (among others). His analysis of the documentary sources is theoretically informed, exploring issues of their fictive nature lucidly. These texts are rarely explicit about exactly what did constitute manliness or unmanliness, but Neal’s elegant and engaging analysis demonstrates the ways in which such definitions can be drawn from them nonetheless.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1005-1006
Number of pages2
JournalSpeculum
Volume85
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2010

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