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Boys & voice: soundscapes of masculinity in the nineteenth century

Publié le 27 janvier 2009 Mis à jour le 29 septembre 2023

27 janvier

Josephine Hoegaerts


The late nineteenth century is in many ways a time that gave masculinity a ‘new’ voice: it is not only the period in which the castrato was replaced with the Heldentenor on European opera stages, but also the era in which the call for universal male suffrage grew ever louder. Not surprisingly, different ‘schools of masculinity’ gave much attention to the construction of the male voice. In boy’s schools as well as in the army, boys and young men were not only taught to listen in silence, but also trained to make their voice reverberate within their small world. And thus specific, heavily gendered, soundscapes were created in which equally specific identities were forged. Within the confines of the barracks and the school, sound and space worked together to discipline inhabitants. However, both the physical and the aural space were also prone to rebellion and bricolage, allowing boys to sing their compliance as well as their resistance to model-narratives of masculinity.


Josephine Hoegaerts (University of Leuven) studied history at the universities of Leuven, Bielefeld and British Columbia. She has published on the history of masculinity in the context of nineteenth century divorce practice and is currently preparing a dissertation on "Spaces and sounds of masculinity in the nineteenth century nation". Publications include: " 'Sous l'empire de la jalousie'. De constructie van gehuwde mannelijkheid in laatnegentiende-eeuwse echtscheidingsprocedures in Vlaanderen: een casestudie", Tijdschrift voor Genderstudies, 2006 – 3, "Legal or just? Law, ethics and the double standard in the nineteenth-century divorce court", Law and History Review, 26, 2, 2008 and « Domestic heroes : Saint Nicholas and the catholic family father in the nineteenth century », Journal of Men, Masculinity and Spirituality, 2009 (accepted for publication).