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Heroism and Masculinity According to Theodore Roosevelt

Date: Thursday, Aug. 19 | 7:00–8:30 PM EDT

What does it mean to be a hero? This was a question that Americans, along with many other Westerners, faced at the end of the nineteenth century. America was changing – its “frontier” was “closed,” as western expansion had settled the country from coast to coast with European immigrants and their descendants. What sort of men would America need now: those who settled down to live urban and more “cultured” lives, or those who sought adventure overseas, seeking to help their nation (and perhaps others) by ruling and “civilizing” other peoples as part of a rising trend of imperial activity throughout the world? This seminar will examine “The Strenuous Life,” Theodore Roosevelt’s vision of heroism and masculinity in perhaps the most famous and controversial speech given by a man known for controversy in general. We will evaluate its message and consider alternatives that were on offer at the time, not only from the perspective of Americans, but with regard to native and foreign peoples too.

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