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Title: Invisible man? : problematising gender and male medicine in Britain and America, 1800-1950
Author: O'Neill, Timothy Hugh
ISNI:       0000 0004 2735 9873
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2003
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This thesis explores male medicine from 1850-1930, and demonstrates that to reduce gender to biology is a fallacy. It becomes apparent from this that historians need to theorise gender. An examination of the historiography on male medicine (and a particular historiographical moment, in fact) is used to illuminate a key problem with the way many historians write about gender. The thesis shows how the cultural reduction of gender to biology caused a misreading of the history of male bodies in medicine. It illustrates the fundamental flaws in the existing historiography on male medicine, and shows how this 'shorthand' leads many historians to completely ignore the subject. The thesis, then, builds on the contention that many historians do not theorise masculinity or gender. Chapter One opens up the arena for debate about male medicine by questioning the widely held historical assumption that women's bodies, and not men's, were 'problematised' in the nineteenth century. Chapters Two to Seven undermine the existing historiography about male medicine, and demonstrate that historians tend to reduce gender to biology. They do this by examining particular body zones that self-evidently seem to provide insight into masculinity and gender. Chapters Two and Three, which examine circumcIsIon, take issue with the assumption that intervention on male bodies was necessarily an issue about masculinity. On the contrary, contemporary medical debates demonstrate that the foreskin was 'a part beyond reason' . Chapter Four explores the gendered meaning of castration, and argues that it was frequently perceived as a threat to masculinity. In Chapter Five, showing that castration could also mean the restoration of male identity attenuates this view. Chapters Six and Seven question and examine gendered meanings of hermaphrodites' bodies. Alice Dreger's work typifies how historians enact a cultural reduction of gender to biology by assuming that hermaphrodites destabilised the gender order. Indeed, the treatment of hermaphrodites illuminates the' gender process' . The final two chapters examine male medicine at 'ground level,' and show that genito-urinary societies and institutions do not concur with the conventional historical wisdom about male medicine. Again, these chapters provide a challenge to accepted views on the subject. The conclusion explores the reasons why historians have tended to undertake a cultural reduction of gender to biology. It ends by suggesting how the work of one gender theorist, Judith Butler, can help historians write more informed accounts of male bodies.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available