Misogyny, jest-books and male youth culture in seventeenth-century England

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Over the past twenty years, patriarchy has become a vitally important analytical concept for historians of women, gender and masculinity. By contrast, misogyny has been under-explored, despite being an equally prevalent historical phenomenon. This article offers a cultural history of seventeenth-century masculinity based on an analysis of the humorous jokes and stories found in jest-books, a genre that appealed in particular to male adolescents and young men in their twenties. It argues that patriarchy and misogyny should be treated as separate analytical concepts and cultural phenomena that appealed to different sorts of men. While patriarchy offered a code of manly behaviour for middling-sort married males to aspire to, misogynistic humour appealed predominantly to youthful single males, who were as antagonistic towards patriarchs as they were towards women. In articulating such an argument, this article engages with debates about manhood, misogyny and the reception and creation of everyday culture in early modern society
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)324–339
Number of pages16
JournalGender and History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2009


  • Early modern history
  • social history
  • cultural history
  • masculinity
  • manhood
  • gender
  • jest-book
  • misogyny
  • print


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