Date of Award

Spring 2011

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

Committee Chair

Amy Milne-Smith

Committee Chair Department

History

Committee Member 2

Jeff Bowersox

Committee Member 2 Department

History

Committee Member 3

Andrew Wiest

Committee Member 3 Department

History

Abstract

Despite the enormous amount ofliterature written about T.E. Lawrence and his exploits in Arabia, he continues to be one of the most mysterious and elusive figures in modern history. Historians have analyzed almost every aspect of Lawrence's life from his early childhood to his death in 1935. Lawrence's upbringing in the late Victorian era shaped his outlook on life as it did for many men of his generation, but Lawrence saw the contradictions of Victorian society and pushed the boundaries of acceptable behavior for men of his class. Lawrence was not a masculine paradigm of the traditional hypermasculine constructs of his generation, and contemporaries often considered him quite feminine. This study seeks to explore Lawrence's early life and his role in the Arab Revolt of 1916 but not the Lawrence legend, as they are two very different people. Lawrence's masculinity and the early Victorian ideals of asceticism and chivalry shaped his world view and how the world viewed him. His unique style of masculinity engendered the trust of a small band of Arabs who risked their lives to inspire revolt against the Ottoman Empire. In so doing, Lawrence became a hero and symbol of national prestige while the old ideals of Victorian masculinity died on the Western Front. Lawrence became the last Victorian knight.

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