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By Paul R. Deslandes

The mythic prestige of the Oxbridge guy on the peak of the British Empire keeps to persist in depictions of this small, elite global as an excellent of athleticism, intellectualism, culture, and formality. In his research of the origins of this fantasy, Paul R. Deslandes explores the standard lifetime of undergraduates at Oxford and Cambridge to envision how they skilled manhood. He considers phenomena corresponding to the dynamics of the junior universal room, the contest of checks, and the social and athletic responsibilities of intercollegiate boat races to teach how rituals, actions, relationships, and discourses all contributed to gender formation. Casting gentle at the lived event of undergraduates, Oxbridge males exhibits how an influential model of British manliness was once embraced, altered, and infrequently rejected as those scholars grew from boys into males.

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Additional resources for Oxbridge Men: British Masculinity and the Undergraduate Experience, 1850-1920

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7 A more important component of the rise of modern undergraduate culture was, however, the dramatic articulation of a distinctive and highly stylized ethos of superiority, a development that corresponded directly to the expanding role these institutions played in nurturing an elite, professional meritocracy. 8 While certainty and assurance became, within this period, hallmarks of the successful university man, it is also possible to argue, as I do in subsequent chapters, that assertions and reiterations of superiority, distinctiveness, and difference also betrayed fundamental insecurities about just how long this status could be maintained.

An increasingly organized and vocal feminist movement demanding (among other things) access to higher education, growing uncertainties about the permanence of the British empire, and the blurring of distinctions between the business and professional classes all meant that Oxbridge undergraduates felt the need to articulate more fully who they were and how they ¤t into the broader structures of British society. 9 Brick and mortar, grass, trees, and ®owers served, then, at a most essential level, as distinguishing hallmarks of what many saw as special environments.

The Oxford or Cambridge student lived in a set of rooms that he rented and decorated according to his own tastes. In these surroundings he read, took notes, received and entertained guests, and ate the private, smaller meals of breakfast and lunch. m. ). The average day, at a glance, looks rather leisurely. Mornings usually consisted of breakfast, at which one might entertain guests, followed by a lecture or two and a few hours of reading. Lunch was generally quick and might also be followed by some reading.

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