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Men of Kent': gender and nationhood in regional perspective, 1815-1837.

Beresford, K.S.; (2007) Men of Kent': gender and nationhood in regional perspective, 1815-1837. Doctoral thesis , University of London. Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis concerns the relationship between English gendered identities and the specificities of region and location. In the years following 1815, the county of Kent was imbued with a powerful 'sense of place'. The county was defined by its militarily strategic position, emphasised by the propaganda, experience and memory of the Napoleonic wars, and its predominantly agricultural economy. Despite the cessation of the wars and economic instability, Kent was perceived as the 'Vanguard of Liberty' and the 'Garden of England'. This 'sense of place' informed the articulation of gender and nationhood. Representations of the 'Men of Kent', a regionally specific assertion of masculine identity, were characterised by behaviour, speech and appearance associated with physical prowess, bearing arms for one's country, and the virtues of 'sturdy Yeomen', those who owned and tilled their own land. 'Men of Kent' were articulated across a series of diverse political campaigns surrounding 'Reform', Agricultural 'Protection', the 'Swing' riots and, on a particularly influential scale, Catholic Emancipation. Other forms of belonging in Kent were not so specifically 'Kentish'. 'Romantic' visions of agrarian-based society, in which hierarchies and inequalities were 'naturalised' - often conceived as 'Old England' - were expressed by political campaigners in Kent and in provincial Southern England more generally. These included 'protectionist' organizations and landlords, and the writings of William Cobbett. The identity of the 'Men of Kent' was expressed primarily through the institutions of the 'county community' such as county meetings and the press. During this period, participation in, and imaginings of, the dominant Kentish 'public sphere' evolved from being relatively narrow - only the aristocratic elite were able to speak for the 'county' - to broader, but still hierarchical conceptions, inflected along the lines of gender, class and race. The Irish, notably the Catholic Association and itinerant labourers, were particularly definitional 'Others' to the 'Men of Kent'. The militaristic and agrarian masculinities of the 'Men of Kent', and related conceptions of society, were also often contested, notably during the labourers' 'Swing' riots and through individual subjectivities.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Men of Kent': gender and nationhood in regional perspective, 1815-1837.
Identifier: PQ ETD:591847
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by Proquest Third party copyright material has been removed from the e-thesis.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1444541
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