High Anxiety: Masculinity in Crisis in Early Modern France

Kathleen P. Long, ed.


This collection explores the evolution of notions about masculinity during the intense crisis of Renaissance and early modern France.  (SCE&S 59)

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Sixteenth Century Essays & Studies, Vol. 59

This collection explores the evolution of notions about masculinity during the intense crisis of Renaissance and early modern France. Authors of the period reflect the anxieties about masculinity that became more pronounced against the backdrop of major events and innovations of the period: the religious conflict in France, the repeated questioning of religious and royal authority, the revival of Greek skepticism, the discovery of the New World, and the rise of clinical medicine. These events in turn fueled growing doubt concerning the fixed and hierarchical nature of gender distinction, a distinction upon which many felt French culture was dependent for its very survival.


Louise Labé’s Transgressions.....Cathy Yandell

Masculine Rhetoric and the French Blason anatomique.....Jeffery Persels

Primal Scenes/Primal Screens: The Homosocial Economy of Dirty Jokes.....Amy Staples

Catherine, Cybele, and Ronsard’s Witnesses.....Stephen Murphy

Mother’s Milk from Father’s Breast: Maternity without Women in Male French Renaissance Lyric.....Kirk Read

Montaigne moqueur: “Virgile” and Its Geographies of Gender.....Tom Conley

Jacques Duval on Hermaphrodites.....Kathleen Long

Molière’s Body Politic.....Mitchell Greenberg

A Curious Study in “Parallel Lives”: Louis XIV and the Abbé de Choisy.....Virginia M. Marino

Pig or Prince?: Murat, d’Aulnoy, and the Limits of Civilized Masculinity.....Lewis C. Seifert

Masculinity, Monarchy, and Metaphysics: A Crisis of Authority in Early Modern France....Catharine Randall


Kathleen Perry Long is associate professor of French at Cornell University, and has published articles on the figure of the hermaphrodite in Renaissance France in L’Esprit Créateur and in various anthologies (Wonder, Marvels, and Monsters in Early Modern Culture, ed. Peter Platt; and Monster Theory: Reading Culture, ed. Jeffrey Cohen). Her book, Another Reality: Metamorphosis and the Imagination in the Poetry of Ovid, Petrarch, and Ronsard, appeared in 1990.


High Anxiety is an invaluable and seminal contribution to French literary and cultural history supplemental reading lists and academic reference collections.

Midwest Book Review

These authors attempt to tease out the developments of masculinity and the male norm in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century France that would eventually result in the transformation of such institutions such as marriage, monarchy, the market, and the church, in the period leading up to and after the Revolution. The authors...examine a wide range of sources from pamphlets, fairy tales, jokes, poetry, and medical works to the works of such authors as Montaigne and Labé.


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