Little men: Literature, anxiety, and modern masculinity, 1726--1788
Armintor, Deborah Needleman
Snow, Edward A.
Doctor of Philosophy
This dissertation examines the unprecedented, and previously unanalyzed, proliferation of miniature men in male-authored literature of the eighteenth century. Through readings of canonical and lesser-known texts---ranging from Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels to Henry Fielding's Tom Thumb plays and Joseph Boruwlaski's Memoirs of the Celebrated Dwarf---I analyze "little men" literature of the 1700s as representing a network of interrelated male identity crises that emerged in the nascent modern era. I argue that these various examples of diminutive men---typically featured alongside enormous women---encode anxieties about the emasculation of the "Englishman" in the arenas of marriage, science, and sensibility, as redefined by the rise of the middle class and the emergence of women as consumers in the new marketplace. By reading the explosion of little-men literature in the eighteenth century as a response to these defining aspects of the new British culture, I make a case for this strange trend as a key factor in the formation of modern masculinity.
Theater; English literature