Advice Literature

Commercially printed advice literature began appearing in America in the eighteenth century, with the intent being to instruct boys (and men) on how to “act like a man.” Although not exclusive to the United States, advice literature is characteristically American in its faith that individuals can improve themselves through knowledge and effort. Advice literature has historically conveyed social constructions of ideal masculinity, often in response to perceived crises in masculinity.

Advice literature has addressed several different dimensions of male identity and behavior. Child-rearing advice literature aimed at parents reveals cultural expectations about how to rear the proper boy. Advice literature written for boys and adolescents reflects societal images of appropriate masculine behavior and values. Other literature addressed styles of fathering, helped husbands understand their social responsibilities, ...

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