puck-magIf I could put an image to Kristin Hoganson’s fighting for American Manhood it would be Jay Taylor’s The Cuban Melodrama from Puck Magazine. Hoganson focused a lot on comparing the situation in Cuba during the Spanish American war to the romanticized medieval novels. What Hoganson describes in her writing is almost identical to the Puck cover. In the chapter, Hoganson discusses hoe American men and their masculinity were beginning to be threatened during the Spanish American war. The Cuban men were more chivalrous than American men. This made American men want to gain back their masculinity and heroism by going and saving poor, defenseless Cuba.

In the image there is three central players, which are those involved in the Spanish American War. We have Spain, the United States, and Cuba. Spain in this image is the classic villain in the adventure romance novels that Hoganson discusses. Spain is dressed in all black, complete with cape and menacing mustache. Classic villain. The next key player is Cuba, in this picture Cuba is depicted as a woman in white, down on her knees. Making Cuba a woman that looks helpless plays into the romanticized novels as the damsel distress. The last figure in this picture as well as a player in the Spanish American War is, of course, the United States.  The United States in this picture is the hero of the story. The man is dressed in a stars and stripes version of a classic Shakespearean hero. The US is put between the villain and the damsel in distress. He is protecting Cuba, who is kneeling at his feet, from the Spain. The whole image shows a classic scene of a hero saving the damsel in distress from the evil caped villain. [1]

Hoganson discusses this very scene in the Fighting for American Manhood. Painting the war this way was used in order to get American men to join the fight and prove their masculinity. “[T]he American every man turned chivalric hero. […] that they were fundamentally manly and needed only an appropriate cause to demonstrate their latent gallantry.” [2] If the American men were afraid of not being scene as masculine, like Hoganson describes, then being able to step into the role of a hero by participating in the Spanish American War was a good way to gain back that masculinity. An example of this is American man Decker, who went to go save a Cuban women in distress. [3] The Journal decided to follow up on this story and many saw it a “the chivalry of the knights of old, who rescued fair damsels in distress.” [4] This is extremely similar to the image on the front of Puck.

Tying this in with media and communication, it is easy to argue that this was a product of the media. The idea of knights saving damsels in distress from the evil villains is products of popular romance novels of the time. Men felt that they needed to be that way because that’s how they are portrayed in the media. The fact that The Cuban Melodrama was put on a magazine also shows the media’s role in this. If men who were feeling that they weren’t masculine enough or that they weren’t doing their job, seeing this magazine cover offers them a way to regain it.

The media is an extremely powerful thing. Even today, what we see in media is how many people wish to see themselves. What we see on the latest magazine cover is how we want to look. I think the Puck Magazine and American masculinity with the Spanish American War works in a very similar way.

[1](C. Jay Taylor, Puck, 3 June 1896)

[2] Hoganson, Kirstin. Fighting for American Manhood: How Gender Politics Provoked the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. (p.61)

[3] Hoganson, Kirstin. Fighting for American Manhood: How Gender Politics Provoked the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. (p.60)

[4]Hoganson, Kirstin. Fighting for American Manhood: How Gender Politics Provoked the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. (p.61)


3 thoughts on “Hoganson

  1. Hi Maddie,
    Overall you made a really great connection between Hoganson’s argument and the Puck magazine cover. I loved the point you made at the end stating that how the media potrays people, is how we wish to see ourselves. During this time, America wanted to be viewed and seen as the selfless hero that saved poor Cuba, and what better way to do that then post it on a popular magazine cover, for many people to see. Media has such a great influence us, not only on how we view other people, but how we view ourselves as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Margaret! Thanks for the feedback! I really like your ending comment about how media affects how we view ourselves. I think that is still true in media today. it really shows how the media has pretty much stayed the same. the fact that we can view cuban war propaganda and still link it to covers of fashion magazines today is pretty cool. the media has always been a powerful influencer.


  2. Hi Maddie,
    Great post! I made a lot of the same connections in my post. I like how you specifically pointed out that American men felt they needed to prove they were more chivalrous than the Cuban men. When looking at the picture, it looks like America is wearing huge clothes that do not fit him…yet. This could possibly symbolize America wanting to grow in its “manliness” to be more like how the Cuban men were perceived. Maybe by protecting the damsel (Cuba), America will finally prove that it is a big macho man worthy of those big clothes. I definitely think this was the People magazine of its time because it showed men how they wanted to be and what they should strive for.


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