The book does historical thinking a great service by taking such a nuanced approach to an eclectic group of body enthusiasts and reformers; it is important to acknowledge their range and variety, especially when little has been left for the historical record except local traces and suggestive fragments that link to wider body movements and social ideas.
Thus while some health groups revered nature and an arcadian past, others revered the technological body, aligning fitness with modernity. The concept of moral and social improvement was signified by physical fitness, which easily fed into and derived from the eugenics movement. Indeed, the significant processes of the militarisation and bureaucratisation of the British body, begun in the Boer War but especially exaggerated during the First World War, could have been much more explicitly theorised.
Public institutions were created and transformed by military processes. While peace in saw degrees of de-militarisation, much of the discursive machinery of the wartime state remained intact, with consequent effects on civilian discourse.
Labour and the Free Churches, 1918-1939
The mass mobilisation of society — the inclusion of men and women in the institutions of war-waging — is also a key aspect of the period. Managing the Body is right to explore the appeal of body cultures not just to men but also to women. The democratising of the nation at war included women as never before, and body cultures were quick to see their new markets. Though masculinity — and reconstructing the male body — was a central concern of reformers, body culturists and governments alike in the aftermath of the war, women were also central to this project.
Overview: Britain, 1918 - 1945
The consumerist appeal to women was particularly strong — and body culture marketing was directed at them. In a period of perceived post-war racial decline, the ideal of national vigour also gave women a special role, as they had in the war as workers and mothers of soldiers. Now they could be idealised as mothers of the fit nation, which, as Managing the Body points out, had specific implications for the British Empire and its need to bolster the imperial dream in the aftermath of a devastating war.
The book traces the ideal of the race mother between the 19th century and s, and shows that though this feminine figure was fundamental to imperialism and patriotic duty, she was not incompatible with the emerging image of the modern woman.
The various nuances of racial motherhood feature as important discussion points in the book. Just as manliness was revered in Edwardian England, culminating in the ideals of military masculinity forged and ruined to the extent that it had to be reconstructed in the First World War, maternalism was a complementary ideal across these periods of British history.
The section on physical culture draws appropriately on a select range from a mass of work on this subject; however, the sections on obesity and dress reform, covering familiar ground for the s, endorse the arguments pursued by many other scholars. Though bringing together some old and some new evidence, most usefully for the period of the later s, the second half of the chapter would have been even more enriched by deeper engagement with the secondary literature, though as with all books space was no doubt a consideration. The significant theme of the reconstruction of the male body, in various physical and sexualised facets, is pursued through a range of discourses, motivations, and technologies, opening up a further need for the different frameworks and nuances of masculinity to be explored.
On a few occasions, the idea of masculinity in this chapter seems rather one dimensional, when there is equal evidence for the diversity and instability of masculinities and a comparable search for male intimacy in the period. It would be most useful to understand more about the homoerotic gesture and queer performance of the male body within fitness display and consumption, and the potential to unsettle the certainty of heteronormative health and efficiency and its reproductive ends.
Sport and the English : 1918-1939 : [between the wars] / Mike Huggins and Jack Williams
What mattered were the social and individual outcomes. Socialism, for those Free Churchmen and women who helped to shape Labour in the early twentieth century, was about improving society as much as systems. Introduction 2.
The Nonconformist Conscience 4. Changes in Chapel Society 5.
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The Politics of Pewmanship 6. Free Churchmen and Women in the Labour Party 7.
The Nonconformist Conscience and the Labour Party 8. The Free Churches and Class Consciousness 9. The Kingdom, the State and Socialism The relationship between the Labour party and the free churches is widely recognised, but very little understood.
Baroque between the Wars: Alternative Style in the Arts, - Oxford Scholarship
Peter Catterall has done a first-class job in combining an acute understanding of the Labour movement, and a deep knowledge of the nonconformist churches, to produce the first serious history of the relationship between the two. Based firmly on meticulous research in the relevant political and religious archives, Catterall constructs an analysis that comfortably outstrips anything that has gone before.
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This is a book that was urgently needed, and it will be the primary point of reference in its field for some time to come. But now that we live in a post-industrial society and the 'Nonconformist Conscience' has all but gone, Labour finds itself with a serious identity crisis. Peter Catterall's brilliant new history takes us back to explain the Christian power-within that shaped the party that built the world's first social democracy.
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