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Masculinity and Danger on the Eighteenth-Century Grand Tour

The Grand Tour, a customary trip through Europe undertaken by British nobility and wealthy landed gentry during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, played an important role in the formation of contemporary notions of elite masculinity. Through an examination of testimonies written by Grand Tourists, tutors, and their families, Sarah Goldsmith argues that the Grand Tour educated young men in a wide variety of skills, virtues, and vices that extended well beyond polite society.

Goldsmith demonstrates that the Grand Tour was a means of constructing Britain’s next generation of leaders. Influenced by aristocratic concepts of honor and inspired by military-style leadership, elite society viewed experiences of danger and hardship as powerfully transformative and therefore as central to constructing masculinity. Scaling mountains, volcanoes, and glaciers, and even encountering war and disease, Grand Tourists willingly tackled a variety of perils. Through her study of these dangers, Goldsmith offers a bold revision of eighteenth-century elite masculine culture and the critical role the Grand Tour played within it.

200 pages | 6 1/2 x 9 3/4

New Historical Perspectives

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

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"One of the pleasures and a great strength of this book is that it engages the reader, chapter after chapter, with the same young men and their vividly described adventures, exploits, pleasures, illnesses and relationships. By the close I felt I knew a few of them as individuals whose distinctive character developed and at times surprised as their story unfolded. . . Sarah Goldsmith has written a provocative and fascinating book which asks fresh questions and offers ground-breaking insights into the ever intriguing Grand Tour. Her impressive command of the archival materials and her wide-ranging historiographical research make Masculinity and Danger a significant contribution to the scholarship on the Tour, and encourages us to rethink the construction of superior elite masculinities and the maintenance of aristocratic ideals and values."

Reviews in History

Table of Contents

1. Hazarding chance: a history of eighteenth-century danger
2. Military mad: war and the Grand Tour
3. Wholesome dangers and a stock of health: exercise, sport and the hardships of the road
4. Fire and ice: mountains, glaciers and volcanoes
5. Dogs, servants and masculinities: writing about danger and emotion on the Grand Tour

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