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Price: $126.00

Hardback 288 pp.
12 b/w halftones, 135 mm x 216 mm



Publication date:
April 2016

Imprint: OUP UK

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Military Men of Feeling

Emotion, Touch, and Masculinity in the Crimean War

Holly Furneaux

Military Men of Feeling considers the popularity of the figure of the gentle soldier in the Victorian period. It traces a persistent narrative swerve from tales of war violence to reparative accounts of soldiers as moral exemplars, homemakers, adopters of children on the battlefield and nurses. This material invites us to think afresh about Victorian masculinity and Victorian militarism. It challenges ideas about the separation of military and domestic life, and about the incommunicability of war experience. Focusing on representations of soldiers' experiences of touch and emotion, the book combines the work of well known writers - including Charles Dickens, Charles Kingsley, William Makepeace Thackeray, Charlotte Yonge - with previously unstudied writing and craft produced by British soldiers in the Crimean War, 1854-56.

The Crimean War was pivotal in shaping British attitudes to military masculinity. A range of media enabled unprecedented public engagement with the progress and infamous "blunders" of the conflict. Soldiers and civilians reflected on appropriate behaviour across ranks, forms of heroism, the physical suffering of the troops, administrative management and the need for army reform. The book considers how the military man of feeling contributes to the rethinking of gender roles, class and military hierarchy in the mid-nineteenth century, and how this figure was used in campaigns for reform. The gentle soldier could also do more bellicose social and political work, disarming anti-war critiques and helping people to feel better about war.

This book looks at the difficult mixed politics of this figure. It considers questions, debated in the nineteenth century and which remain urgent today, about the relationship between feeling and action, and the ethics of an emotional response to war. It makes a case for the importance of emotional and tactile military history, bringing the Victorian military man of feeling into contemporary debates about liberal warriors and soldiers as social workers.

Readership : Students and scholars of Victorian literature; those with an interest in ideas of masculinity and representations of masculinity in literature; those with an interest in the culture of war.

1. 'The company of gentlemen': Thackeray's Military Men of Feeling and Eighteenth-Century Traditions
2. Princes of War and of Peace: Secular and Spiritual Redemption in Dickens and Kingsley
3. Children of the Regiment: Narratives of Battlefield Adoption
4. 'Our poor Colonel loved him as if he had been his own son': Family Feeling in the Crimea
5. Sharing the Stuff of War: Soldier Art, Textiles and Tactility
6. Reparative Soldiering and its Limits: Cultures of Male Care-Giving
Reparative Soldiering and its Limits: Cultures of Male Care-Giving

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Holly Furneaux is a Reader in Victorian Literature at the University of Leicester. She is author of Queer Dickens: Erotics, Families, Masculinities (Oxford University Press, 2009). She is also co-editor, with Sally Ledger, of Dickens in Context (Cambridge University Press, 2011), and editor of John Forster's Life of Dickens (Sterling, 2011). Research for her new book, Military Men of Feeling: Emotion Touch and Masculinity, was supported by an AHRC Fellowship in partnership with the National Army Museum.

Making Sense - Margot Northey and Joan McKibbin
Victorian Poetry and the Culture of the Heart - Kirstie Blair

Special Features

  • Presents a unique and unexpected approach to the topic.
  • Considers a range of familiar authors alongside previously unresearched archival material.
  • Looks closely at soldiers' own accounts of war.
  • Includes discussion of art and objects supported by illustrations, giving readers insight into the material culture of war.