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Journal > Volumes > 41 (2010) / 2 (Summer)
Strange Things Out of Hair: Baldness and Masculinity in Early Modern England
Anu Korhonen
University of Helsinki

In the recent history of masculinity, the male body has gained ground as a fresh field of interest, parallel in many ways to earlier emphases on the female body in women’s history. This article explores male baldness as a constituent of masculinity in early modern England. Drawing from printed texts of various genres, combined with evidence from diaries and (auto)biographical writings, it shows that baldness could have many meanings to sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Englishmen. The article argues that the key contexts for understanding hair loss were age, health, and physical attractiveness—all linked to questions of honor and shame, but most often discussed with an ironic tone. Matters of outward appearance were deemed trivial, particularly in the case of men, and baldness too emerges as an ambiguous marker of masculinity—one best taken rather lightly.

Pages: 371 - 391