Competing Masculinities: Fraternities, Gender and Nationality in the German Confederation, 1815–30



Immediately after the Wars of Liberation against Napoleon (1815), university students, particularly the nationalist fraternity, the Burschenschaft, sought to connect the German nation with martial values. They practised gymnastics, duelled and commemorated veterans of the Napoleonic wars. The era after the Wars also illustrates greater mediation in the discourse of masculinity than has generally been acknowledged, however. University students never achieved consensus on what masculine identity or German identity entailed. By applying enlightened principles to notions of honour and the practice of the duel, Burschenschafter also articulated a new, more moral vision of the German man, one based more on rationality and self-discipline than on martial values.