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Stead Abstract

Sandow the Modern Hercules: or The Twelve Labours of the Class-conscious Historian of British Classics

Henry Stead

This chapter presents the twelve ‘labours’ of the class-conscious historian of British classics, illustrating each labour in relation to the case-study presented by the father of modern bodybuilding, Eugen Sandow. 1) the definition of ‘class’ as a category of social analysis; 2) the important differences between the study of Classics and ‘popular’ culture and the study of Classics’ implication in the maintenance of economic and political lines of class exclusion; 3) the problem of subjectively perceived class ‘identity’ and its incommensurability with ‘objective’ socio-economic position; 4) the definition of ‘Classics’, whether as institution, curriculum, or cultural property; 5) the ‘ownership’ of cultural property; 6) the eroticization of classical visual culture; 7) in gender terms, the pervasive identification of ‘working-class’ with heterosexual masculinity; 8) the contradiction between the interests of the British working class and the subjects of the British Empire who laboured elsewhere; 9) the association between some working-class activists and racialist, eugenic and Aryanist ideas; 10) the impact of industrialization on the recreational life of the poorest Britons; 11) class mobility (in both directions); and 12) fraudulent self-presentation.