Lost And Recovered: Changing Ideals Of Masculinity, Strength, And Physique In And Out Of War In 20Th Century America
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In the 20th century, American men were exposed to many different influences that shaped how they viewed themselves as men and how they achieved this ideal manhood. The main theme that connected this pursuit of masculinity was with regards to their bodies; in the physical realm, strength and physique went hand in hand with ideal manhood. This thesis explores different influences of these three interrelated elements – strength, physique, and masculinity. For organizational purposes, these influences are split between three periods highlighted by significant wars: World War I, World War II, and the Cold War. For each period, its respective war will be included as an influence of masculinity, along with other topics in the wartime era. Furthermore, there will be common consideration of the media, and significant individuals that influenced media representation, in each period to add insight into how people were thinking about the male body and masculinity at the time. Overall, the purpose of the thesis is to explore how various political, economic, and social factors contributed to a constant flux between lost and recovered manhood during 20th century wartime, and why strength and physique was a key aspect of this manhood during the century.