Abstract"Constituting American Masculinity" analyzes the tensions among competing discourses on modes of manhood during the Constitutional period that lay the ground for the move toward political independence. In particular, the essay takes up the debate over the Constitution to demonstrate how it reframes manhood, deploying insecurity as its engine to catch the confederated states in a masculine double bind. This double bind enlists male citizens into a mandatory political dependency that they can only name independence. The Constitutional moment thus becomes, among other things, a mechanism of democratic imposture that promises equalitarian social and political relations, but that, in a kind of leger-de-main, works to install a hierarchical relation in the name of democracy.
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