Religion, manliness and imperialism in 19th century culture.
Christian manliness emerges from a period of intense counter-revolution in English
history, one in which protestantism and especially Anglicanism - plays an important
ideological role in legitimating English national development. The form of manliness
associated with Kingsley et al crystallises various aspects of the protestant ethic -
conscience, independence and the redemptive value of work - into an ideology of English
masculinity which becomes prescriptive and institutionalised in the public schools of the
second half of the century. This sense of masculinity is established as an important part
of English imperial hubris. For this reason, the thesis is very much concerned with
England's relations with Ireland - a nation stigmatised as unfit for self-rule because
predominantly Catholic. backward and effeminate.
The thesis begins by outlining in broad terms elements of protestant Englishness,
and moves on to look at the emergence of christian manliness as an extension of the
counter-revolutionary concerns of the christian socialist Charles Kingsley. It is in this
cultural context of manly protestantism that the 'effeminacy' of 1. H. Newman and other
Catholicising elements in the Anglican Church are considered. After analysing dominant
characteristics of English writers' conceptions of Ireland, the thesis looks at the
contradictory ways in which Gerard Manley Hopkins's admiration for the male body is
bound up with a patriotism at odds with his Catholicism, and argues that the specific
elements of this patriotism determine the 'desolations' of his final years in Ireland Finally, Oscar Wilde's relations to English culture are considered - specifically. his
understanding of his Celtishness as subversive of English puritanism; a subversiveness
ultimately still indebted - because antithetical - to English manliness.