Hair, Beards and the Fashioning of English Manhood in Early Modern Travel Texts
Recent scholarship on the early modern body has shown that features such as hair are repositories of cultural meaning, with beards, particularly, emerging as powerful tools of self-fashioning. However, this research is rarely applied to studies of colonialism and nationhood which continue to privilege skin colour as the marker of difference, despite the fact that hair and beards were a key way through which travellers imagined their dissimilarity from other cultures. The author considers representations of English/non-English bodies to demonstrate that defining the ‘other’ was an unstable project, especially when difference was located in facial hair, a malleable and mutable substance. The fashioning of English manhood through hair was therefore a beleaguered task, meaning that the writing of foreignness frequently collapses in on itself to problematise the Englishness it fantasises as stable.