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'This starting, feverish heart'

Matthew Arnold and the Problem of Manliness

Heather Ellis

This article explores the ambiguous role of gender in Matthew Arnold’s poetry and early criticism, an aspect of his work hitherto almost entirely neglected by Victorian scholars. In the first part, a link is posited between effeminate caricatures of Arnold and his early work and those of John Henry Newman and the Oxford Movement, whose notions about the peculiar spiritual value of poetry and of contemplative seclusion exercised a pervasive influence upon Arnold as an Oxford undergraduate in the early 1840s and indeed throughout his life. The article goes on to suggest that while Newman felt confident enough to propose an alternative ideal of manliness based upon the traditionally feminine, yet irrefutably Christian, virtues of self-denial, self-inspection and obedience, Arnold lacked the certainty which Newman’s faith gave him, and, in addition, felt that he had failed to live up to the contrasting ideal of self-assertive, active manliness propounded by his father, Newman’s arch-rival and critic, Thomas Arnold.

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Heather Ellis

This introductory article explains the aims of the interdisciplinary conference “Masculinity and the Other” held at Balliol College, Oxford, August 29-30, 2007, at which all of the papers comprising this special issue of Thymos: Journal of Boyhood Studies were first presented. It points out the prominence which the notions of the “boy” and boyhood and the life-cycle enjoyed at the conference and seeks more generally to suggest the benefits a more fully integrated discussion of these topics might bring to the fields of masculinity and gender studies.

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Catherine E. Anderson, Heather Ellis, David Haldane Lawrence, Ian Peddie, Madhudaya Sinha, Graeme Smart, Alexandra Tankard, Amelia Yeates, and Karen Yuen

Notes on contributors

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Martin Ashley, Jürgen Budde, Andrew Calimach, Heather Ellis, Pauline Farley, Stephen T. Graef, Diederik Janssen, Amanda Keddie, Bertha Mook, Peter Redman, and Maria Elena Reyes

For this, the sixth issue of Thymos, which will conclude its third year of publication and with a lively plan of upcoming issues already in place, I asked the members of our editorial board and all past contributors to Thymos to informally respond to this question: “As someone who has written about ‘the boy’ and ‘boyhood’, how do you conceptualize and define these terms as you begin to study and write about issues facing ‘boys’, in the cities, in rural settings, in schools, in various contemporary cultures?” I also suggested that the meaning of “the boy” and “boyhood” may, in fact, be the central issue of boyhood studies at this point. The question elicited eleven remarkably different responses, which follow.