Bodies in court

‘Hogarth would have admired him forever’

in Men on trial
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How being embodied shapes people’s experience of the world is an area of growing interest, with physical presentation understood as a resource in the production of identity and power. This chapter explores how the body, clothing and displays of emotion ‘spoke’ within courtrooms, shaping social and legal power relationships. Performances of dress, physical appearance and emotion could all be used to judge manly behaviour and character and so were implicated in the construction of justice. Men whose bodies or clothing suggested poverty undermined claims to a masculine character formed through respectability and a beautiful body. Eccentric men disrupted such norms, offering alternative readings of the male body. Through the press, such performances contributed to debates around Irish identity, civilisation and nationhood.

Men on trial

Performing embodiment, emotion and identity in Ireland, 1800-45



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