Sex and sentiment
in Being boys
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Chapter 4 suggests that much interwar social behaviour was more relaxed than before the First World War and the informalising trends of popular culture exposed generational fissures which were particularly apparent in concerns about the cinema's imaginative and sensual impact. Courtship and ‘dating’ were becoming ‘private’ acts of consumption, taking place away from family and neighbourhood venues, in public social spaces such as the cinemaintroduction and dance hall. This distancing stimulated many adult concerns about their inability to supervise adequately young people's leisure, and produced much often ill-informed commentary about how young people's sexual lives were changing. What received less attention were shifting imaginative landscapes and the cinema's catalysing role for emotional tensions between individual and public expressions of masculinity, as the chapter suggests in its exploration of the responses which particular films evoked in some young men.

Being boys

Youth, leisure and identity in the inter-war years

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