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Danger, Risk-taking and Masculinity on the British Grand Tour to the European Continent, c. 1730-1780

Goldsmith, Sarah Anne Maria (2015) Danger, Risk-taking and Masculinity on the British Grand Tour to the European Continent, c. 1730-1780. PhD thesis, University of York.

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This thesis undertakes a revision of the eighteenth-century British Grand Tour through investigating the role played by danger, risk and hardship in its rationale and process of masculine formation. The question of why Grand Tourists risked the dangers of travel when many aristocratic male lines were dying out has puzzled various scholars. My research argues that danger was much more central to the Grand Tour’s culture and rationale than has previously been allowed. Examining manuscript writings from aristocratic and gentry families across several generations c. 1730-80, and focusing upon the importance of Grand Tour destinations beyond Italy, this thesis identifies how and why Grand Tourists willingly engaged with dangers as varied as moral hazard, war, mountains, disease and the risks and hardships of the road and sport. The Grand Tour was a crucial forum in which formative experiences of discomfort and danger could take place. Perceived as imbued with transformative properties that encouraged and confirmed the development of valued masculine internal and physical virtues, these experiences constituted a central element of masculine formation and culture. Scholars have largely ignored these activities and the wider ramifications they have upon our understanding of elite masculine culture. Through examining them, this thesis argues that eighteenth-century elite men sought to cultivate a hardy masculine identity that embraced martial, sporting and chivalric masculinities, and sat alongside the more commonly acknowledged masculinities of politeness and sensibility. As importantly, the experience and narration of danger acted as an important platform for homosocial bonding, and one through which wider issues of elite masculinity, authority, identity and power were explored. Danger was used to advocate a wide array of elite masculine identities, ranging from the martial to the man of feeling. Such narratives often sought to further individual and collective claims for the elite’s hold on exclusivity and power.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Grand Tour, masculinity, travel, eighteenth century, risk, danger, elite culture
Academic Units: The University of York > History (York)
Depositing User: Miss Sarah Anne Maria Goldsmith
Date Deposited: 29 Feb 2016 12:00
Last Modified: 08 Mar 2017 11:35
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/11605

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