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IdiocyA Cultural History$
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Patrick McDonagh

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9781846310959

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846315367

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Diminished men: masculinity and idiocy

Diminished men: masculinity and idiocy

(p.79) Chapter 4 Diminished men: masculinity and idiocy
Liverpool University Press

This chapter explores the history of some of the common features of representations of male idiocy, in order to ask what functions male idiots serve when they appear in texts, fictional or otherwise. It examines the legal history of the concept of idiocy and its relation to feudal political structures and patrilineage, before considering some prominent representations, both historical and literary, as case studies. It concludes by considering how ideas of masculinity and manliness shift in the middle of the nineteenth century, and how these changing notions of masculinity are also evident in representations of male idiots.

Keywords:   male idiocy, male idiots, legal history, patrilineage, masculinity, manliness, idiocy

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