Remaking the Male Body: Masculinity and the Uses of Physical Culture in Interwar and Vichy France

ISBN : 9780199695577

Joan Tumblety
272 ページ
164 x 240 mm

Remaking the Male Body looks at interwar physical culture as a set of popular practices and as a field of ideas. It takes as its central subject the imagined failure of French manhood that was mapped out in this realm by physical culturist 'experts', often physicians. Their diagnosis of intertwined crises in masculine virility and national vitality was surprisingly widely shared across popular and political culture. Theirs was a hygienist and sometimes overtly eugenicist conception of physical exercise and national strength that suggests the persistence of fin-de-siecle pre-occupations with biological degeneration and regeneration well beyond the First World War. Joan Tumblety traces these patterns of thinking about the male body across a seemingly disparate set of voices, all of whom argued that the physical training of men offered a salve to France's real and imagined woes. In interrogating a range of sources, from get-fit manuals and the popular press, to the mobilising campaigns of popular politics on left and right and official debates about physical education, Tumblety illustrates how the realm of male physical culture was presented as an instrument of social hygiene as well as an instrument of political struggle. In highlighting the purchase of these concerns in the interwar years, the book ultimately sheds light on the roots of Vichy's project for masculine renewal after the military defeat of 1940.


1. Physical culturists, masculine ideals, and social hygiene
2. The body of the citizen-soldier: physical education and the state
3. Male bodies between associative life and consumer spectacle: the mass press and popular sporting practice
4. The uses of sport and physical culture in mass politics: mobilizing the 'new man', 1918-1934
5. Mass culture and mass politics, 1934-1940
6. The defeat of French manhood and the Vichy imagination


Joan Tumblety teaches History at the University of Southampton. Her recent research has focused on the cultural and gender history of early to mid-twentieth century France, with a special interest in masculinity. Her current project examines the interface between scientific discourse and popular culture. She recently served as co-editor of the interdisciplinary journal Modern & Contemporary France (2006-2011).