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Measuring Manhood

Race and the Science of Masculinity, 1830–1934

2015
Author:

Melissa N. Stein

Measuring Manhood

A major new history of scientific racism in the United States

Covering a wide range of historical actors in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century America, Measuring Manhood analyzes how race became the purview of science and reveals the role of gender, sex, and sexuality in the scientific making—and unmaking—of race.

Measuring Manhood is the book we’ve been hoping for. For two generations, historians have talked about the ways that race, class, and gender are interlocking and co-operational. Carefully and thoughtfully, Melissa N. Stein gathers these plots and lays out a story of intersecting interests and ideologies: a story of knowledge gone mad that is deeply resonant in our time.

Matthew Pratt Guterl, Brown University

From the “gay gene” to the “female brain” and African American students’ insufficient “hereditary background” for higher education, arguments about a biological basis for human difference have reemerged in the twenty-first century. Measuring Manhood shows where they got their start.

Melissa N. Stein analyzes how race became the purview of science in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century America and how it was constructed as a biological phenomenon with far-reaching social, cultural, and political resonances. She tells of scientific “experts” who advised the nation on its most pressing issues and exposes their use of gender and sex differences to conceptualize or buttress their claims about racial difference. Stein examines the works of scientists and scholars from medicine, biology, ethnology, and other fields to trace how their conclusions about human difference did no less than to legitimize sociopolitical hierarchy in the United States.

Covering a wide range of historical actors from Samuel Morton, the infamous collector and measurer of skulls in the 1830s, to NAACP leader and antilynching activist Walter White in the 1930s, this book reveals the role of gender, sex, and sexuality in the scientific making⎯and unmaking⎯of race.

Measuring Manhood

Melissa N. Stein is assistant professor of gender and women’s studies at the University of Kentucky.

Measuring Manhood

Measuring Manhood is the book we’ve been hoping for. For two generations, historians have talked about the ways that race, class, and gender are interlocking and co-operational. Carefully and thoughtfully, Melissa N. Stein gathers these plots and lays out a story of intersecting interests and ideologies: a story of knowledge gone mad that is deeply resonant in our time.

Matthew Pratt Guterl, Brown University

Smartly conceptualized and engagingly written.

Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences

Measuring Manhood

Contents

Introduction: Making Race, Marking Difference
1. "Races of Men”: Ethnology in Antebellum America
2. An “Equal Beard” for “Equal Voting”: Gender and Citizenship in the Civil War, Reconstruction, and Redemption
3. Inverts, Perverts, and Primitives: Racial Thought and the American School of Sexology
4. Unsexing the Race: Lynching, Castration, and Racial Science
5. Walter White, Scientific Racism, and the NAACP Antilynching Campaign
Epilogue
Acknowledgments
Appendix. Charting Racial Science: Data and Methodology
Notes
Index