Masculinity, Materiality and Space Onboard the Royal Naval Ship, 1756 – 1815
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This thesis is a social and material history of the British naval ship during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and analyses the nexus of masculine interactions with spaces and objects aboard. Previous naval historiography has tended to polarise the experience of seamen and officers as defined either by benevolent paternalism or revolutionary conflict, and has tended to avoid engagement with the analytical frameworks of gender, material culture and spatiality. Indeed, despite it acting as a temporary home for upwards of 500,000 men during the long eighteenth century, the naval ship during this period has often been understood as purely a platform for a series of hierarchical relationships, rather than a lived space, the everyday experience of which informed the masculine identities of all who lived aboard. Through an examination of records of courts martial, letters, logs, journals, memoirs, objects and ship plans, this thesis attempts to understand the ways in which a socially disparate group of men defined themselves in relation to each other, as well as the built environment and shifting material worlds they occupied. Regardless of their status within the naval hierarchy, the denizens of naval ships occupied a temporary home which was continually being made and remade. The material and social interactions which attended these processes can, this thesis argues, tell us much about masculine experience and expectation, both for the naval ship, and the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries more widely.
AuthorsJones, Elin Frances
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