Antipodean men: constructing ruling-class masculinity in early colonial New South Wales, 1800-1850
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 01:17 authored by Michael Nicholls
This thesis examines the construction of ruling-class masculinity in the early colonial period in New South Wales. It shows how a specific form of masculinity emerged to cater for the particular demands that political and economic authority wrought on ruling-class men. Consequently, the figure of the British gentleman during this period was renegotiated and then re-enacted by these men in order to meet the uneasy and contradictory ways this masculine ideal was reshaped by these demands. By asking questions of the family and school, this thesis argues that we are able to see this renegotiation play out through two institutions that sustain – and promote – gendered norms and expectations. Through a close reading of the Macarthur family correspondence, this thesis demonstrates the vulnerability of the gentlemanly stereotype in the antipodes, as well as showing John Macarthur’s determination to train his sons James and William in colonial manliness. This thesis also examines the role played by the King’s School inParramatta in constructing ruling-class masculinity, including the ways in which it was founded and its devotion to the schooling system ‘godliness and good learning’. I argue that the formation of an antipodean ruling-class not only paralleled a struggle to consolidate political and economic authority, but also an explicit attempt to construct a particular form of colonial manliness.