Electronic book text
August 26, 2009
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$60.00 USD, £44.50 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Jolly Fellows

Male Milieus in Nineteenth-Century America

"Jolly fellows," a term that gained currency in the nineteenth century, referred to those men whose more colorful antics included brawling, heavy drinking, gambling, and playing pranks. Reforms, especially the temperance movement, stigmatized such behavior, but pockets of jolly fellowship continued to flourish throughout the country. Richard Stott scrutinizes and analyzes this behavior to appreciate its origins and meaning.

Stott finds that male behavior could be strikingly similar in diverse locales, from taverns and boardinghouses to college campuses and sporting events. He explores the permissive attitudes that thrived in such male domains as the streets of New York City, California during the gold rush, and the Pennsylvania oil fields, arguing that such places had an important influence on American society and culture. Stott recounts how the cattle and mining towns of the American West emerged as centers of resistance to Victorian propriety. It was here that unrestrained male behavior lasted the longest, before being replaced with a new convention that equated manliness with sobriety and self-control.

Even as the number of jolly fellows dwindled, jolly themes flowed into American popular culture through minstrelsy, dime novels, and comic strips. Jolly Fellows proposes a new interpretation of nineteenth-century American culture and society and will inform future work on masculinity during this period.

About the Author

Richard Stott is an associate professor of American history at George Washington University and author of Workers in the Metropolis: Class, Ethnicity and Youth in Antebellum New York City.


"A lively, often engaging, and sometimes appalling book about men behaving badly, an inexhaustible topic."—Ronald Walters, Johns Hopkins University

"A fascinating exploration of the relationship between a powerful cultural symbol and those who embodied it, and of the challenges involved in extracting the latter from the former."—Elaine Frantz Parsons, American Historical Review

"A valuable addition to the history of American masculinities."—Brian Roberts, Western Historical Quarterly

"Stott's useful framwork will inform our ongoing examination of jollity and gender."—Bret E. Carroll, Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

9780801897955 : jolly-fellows-stott
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