Performing masculine perfection: Eugen Sandow's American male ideal



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In the late 1800s masculinity as understood in the United States’ urban northeast underwent a major transformation as the preceding emphasis upon decorum and civility gave way to a new ideal based on masculine health and fitness. This thesis seeks to demonstrate the significant role that Eugen Sandow, a Prussian born strongman who rose to international fame at the turn of the century, played in this masculine transformation. Sandow rose to stardom alongside theatre impresario Florenz Ziegfeld and used that stardom to revolutionize American manhood. Sandow was a performer, an athlete, and marketing genius. These three distinct identities coalesced to allow Sandow the opportunity to inspire a nation.

This thesis won 2nd Place in the Texas Tech University Outstanding Thesis and Dissertation Award, Humanities/Fine Arts, 2017.



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