"We Have Lived & Loved as Brothers": Male Friendship at the University of Virginia 1825-1861

Morrison, Joshua, History - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Varon, Elizabeth, Department of History, University of Virginia

Using decades of student relationships at the University of Virginia, this thesis challenges the prevailing notion of antebellum white Southern male relationships as defined by isolation, aggression, and violent clashes of honor. As a finishing school for the South’s social and economic elite, including numerous politicians, lawyers, academics, and Confederate officers, UVa served as a crucial incubator of Southern culture and gender norms, and played an outsized role in America’s flourishing slave regime. This project centers on student diaries, recollections, and autograph albums, exposing the homosocial world of “intimate” male friendship and love that flourished alongside periodic outbreaks of student violence at UVa. While enrolled, students developed intense emotional connections, based in part on socially acceptable physical closeness, that were central to their collegiate experience and largely defy the current historiographical consensus.

MA (Master of Arts)
gender, masculinity, nineteenth century, Virginia, University of Virginia, antebellum, love, friendship, sexuality
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