Men on trial

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

Author: Katie Barclay

Men on trial explores how the Irish perform ‘the self’ within the early nineteenth-century courtroom and its implications for law, society and nation. The history of masculinity is now a burgeoning field, as the way men created and understood their identities is explored in different contexts, from marriage to the military, and with increasing nuance. This monograph contributes to this discussion through an exploration of how men from different social groups created, discussed and enacted manliness in the context of the Irish justice system. Drawing on new methodologies from the history of emotion, as well as theories of performativity and performative space, it emphasises that manliness was not simply a cultural ideal, but something practised, felt and embodied. Moving through courtroom architecture to clothing, displays of emotion, speech-making, storytelling, humour and character, Men on trial explores how, through its performance, gender could be a creative dynamic in productions of power, destabilising traditional lines of authority. Targeted at scholars in Irish history, law and gender studies, this book argues that justice was not simply determined through weighing evidence, but through weighing men, their bodies, behaviours and emotions. In a context where the processes of justice were publicised in the press for the nation and the world, manliness and its role in the creation of justice became implicated in the making of national identity. Irish character was honed in the Irish court and through the press.

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