Cold Steel, Weak Flesh: Mechanism, Masculinity and the Anxieties of Late Victorian Empire

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This article considers the reception and representation of advanced military technology in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Britain. It argues that technologies such as the breech-loading rifle and the machine gun existed in an ambiguous relationship with contemporary ideas about martial masculinities and in many cases served to fuel anxieties about the physical prowess of the British soldier. In turn, these anxieties encouraged a preoccupation in both military and popular domains with that most visceral of weapons, the bayonet, an obsession which was to have profound consequences for British military thinking at the dawn of the First World War.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-181
Issue number2
Early online date13 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jan 2017


  • Masculinity, gender, war, empire, technology

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