Images of Men in Europe, 18th - 21st Century


The purpose of this course is to understand the construction of European gendered identities by examining, in a historical and anthropological perspective, the changes in the images of men and masculinity in the contemporary period, in a time span and specific topics that that may vary but will stay limited to the time frame beginning at the end of the eighteenth century, and ending nowadays.

Such an inquiry will, nevertheless, need to be grounded in the oldest models on which masculinity was originally founded in the European world. This is why this course will put a major emphasis in understanding and deconstructing the idea of “manliness”, or “virility”, which has unquestionably provided over the centuries a stable and dominant archaic model which defined and prescribed what a “real man” is, or at least should be. It will do so by examining the changing representations of masculinity in European visual culture, mainly through sports, war, consumption, medicine and sexuality.

The class aims at providing a deeper and more complex understanding of European gendered identities, and beyond, of the construction of masculinities in the Western world. But it also focuses on visual culture and the interpretation of images, in a methodological perspective; how can we “read” images? What is “real” about the images of “real” men?

Availability 2024

Not taught in 2024




Coursework + exam


EUROPEAN 208: 15 points


30 points passed in BA courses