Man of the House

cartoon house

‘Man of the House’

Masculinity and domesticity from 1800 until the present day.

22nd June, 2018

Lawson Room, Kennedy Hall, School of English, University of St Andrews.

Keynote Speaker: Dr Alice Ferrebe

‘Men make their livings and reputation in the world; women tend the hearth and raise the children. That division of labour has seldom been absolute, and today more than ever is regarded as a shackle from the past rather than a rational basis for society. But the underlying assumption about the proper—or “natural” roles of men and women—has been profoundly influential in most cultures and in most periods of history. That being the case, what does masculinity have to do with domesticity?’
                                                   John Tosh, A Man's Place (1999).

This interdisciplinary conference, hosted by the University of St Andrews, expands upon John Tosh’s enquiry into Victorian middle-class men and domesticity, seeking to explore the evolution of the complex and intersectional relationship between masculinity and the home from the 19th-century to the present day. Through a series of panels, an afternoon roundtable discussion, and an evening showcase of creative responses, this event aims to encourage an interdisciplinary dialogue considering how we define social constructions of gender and the politicizing of public and private bodies, spaces, and identities.

From the Victorian gentleman, through the crises of masculinity characteristic of the 20th-century, to contemporary discussions surrounding gender, sexuality and social roles, masculinity has had a contentious relationship to the ‘feminizing’ possibilities of domesticity.  The nuanced and ever-changing dynamics of masculine identity in relation to the home lends itself to questions about the intersections of gender, space, and social convention. How does masculinity interact with the image of the man of the house? How have developing and multiplying manifestations of femininity affected the relationship between masculinity and the home? In what ways have society’s gendered depictions of racial otherness influenced our perception of racialized masculinity in a domestic space? How have contemporary receptions to the “stay at home dad” impacted on social responses to the image of masculinity in the home? How do emerging ideas about gender and sexuality embrace or reject the tradition of gendering space?

Bringing together scholars from varying fields, these are just a few of the enquiries which the ‘Man of the House’ conference hopes to explore.  We particularly welcome scholars with diverse interests and approaches to this topic, with the hope of evaluating, extending, and complicating established formulations of the relationship between masculinity and domesticity. We will also be hosting an afternoon roundtable to encourage an informal discussion on the changing cultural and critical conceptualisations of masculinity in literature, film, tv, art, media, and beyond, ultimately asking the crucial question of what ‘masculinity’ means when it is at home. 

We invite papers, presentations, and creative responses from a variety of disciplines that consider the relationship between masculinity and domesticity from the early 1800s onwards. Topics may include, but are not be restricted to:

● Lower-, middle-, and upper-class masculinities.

● Racial/ethnic/national identities and domestic masculinity.

● Queer domestic spaces.

● Transgender studies and domesticity.

● Homosexuality, varied interpretations of domestic masculinity, and the structure of the family.

● Female masculinity.

● Women’s portrayals of domestic masculinity in art, literature, and film.

● The impact of men working from home: home offices/ studies, home-based museums and laboratories.

● Changing conceptualizations of fatherhood.

● The impact of wartime and peacetime on male domestic roles.

● Male illness and disability.

● Sex and masculinity.

● The male homemaker.

● Domestic abuse.

● Gothic/monstrous masculinities.

● Gendered spaces in the home and garden.

● Masculine hobbies and the militarization of play.

Please send short abstracts (300 words) accompanied by a brief biography to We require all abstracts as .pdf or .doc attachments. The body of the email should contain the scholar’s name, affiliation, and abstract title. Presentations will each last 20 minutes, with 10 minutes for questions and further discussion.

Deadline for submissions: February 5th, 2018.

A call for creative entries is also being circulated seeking imaginative submissions in response to the theme, which will be exhibited at an evening showcase. The deadline for proposals is March 5th, 2018.