Men During Wartime

Study Questions for Part Three

1. Search the periodical literature of the nineteenth century for articles on masculinity, femininity, and their variants. You might try working with the Making of America electronic database, which should help facilitate your search for these terms. If your library has nineteenth-century periodicals in their holdings (e.g., Godey's Ladies Book, Harper's, Atlantic Monthly, etc.), spend some time perusing them. Though these periodicals are not as easily searchable as those on a database, there is no better way to attain a sense of nineteenth-century material culture in all its multiplicity. For example, consider J.D. Bell's "Manliness" which appeared in the July 1859 issue of the Ladies' Repository.

2. An image of a solider with his legs amputated. The war reunited the nation, but left many soldiers, families, and communities in pieces. The image to the left comes from the Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion (1861-65), a twelve-volume compendium of the war's toll on the bodies of Americans. How might these injuries have altered post-bellum conceptions of masculinity? What roles were available for these injured men at war's end? How did their injuries have a correlative impact upon conceptions of femininity? As interesting as the answers to these questions may be, a starting place might be to think about what kind of evidence would be required to answer them. What kind of data (e.g., texts, images, statistics, etc.) would be needed?

3. Whitman published the Calamus cluster of poems in 1860-1 edition of Leaves of Grass. How do his representations of relations between men in this cluster compare with those that appear in Drum-Taps? Remember that the two clusters span the Civil War.

4. An image of a white man and a black man shaking hands. Both men's left legs have been amputated. The illustration to the left, entitled "A Man Knows a Man," originally appeared in Harper's Weekly on April 22, 1865. Click on the thumbnail to see a larger version of the image, paying close attention to the caption. How do the men's amputations function in the image? What role does masculinity or "manhood" play in establishing a relationship between these two soldiers? As a way to bridge racial difference? What does it mean to say that "a man knows a man?"