Major Papers


Masculinity, Physical Culture, Interwar Period


This paper will examine how interwar American men turned to their bodies to display their masculinity during a period where said masculinity was under “attack.” Their traditional means of masculinity through the role of being a breadwinner was no longer fully attainable as women entered the workforce in increasing numbers and the Great Depression set in. American men in desperation turned to physical culture proponents like Eugene Sandow, Charles Atlas, and Bob Hoffman to show them how to navigate a new world. Sandow, Atlas, and Hoffman used new forms of media and an emerging consumer culture to find success, but to also define what it was to be a man: muscularity and strength.

Primary Advisor

Robert Nelson

Program Reader

Gregg French

Degree Name

Master of Arts



Document Type

Major Research Paper

Convocation Year