Irish medical student culture and the performance of masculinity, c.1880-1930

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In recent years, there have been valuable studies of medical education that have highlighted the importance of shared educational activities and the changing image of the student. Less attention has been paid to how masculine ideals were passed on to students and how educational and extra-curricular spheres became sites for the maintenance of hegemonic masculinity. Taking Irish medical schools as a case study and drawing on the student press, doctors’ memoirs and novels, this article will illustrate how rites of passage in medical education and social activities such as pranks and rugby became imbued with masculine tropes. In this way, the transformation of student to practitioner was often symbolised as the transformation of boy to man. The cultivation of the image of the medical student as a predominantly male individual became an important force in segregating men and women students and helped to preserve Irish medicine as a largely masculine sphere.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalHistory of Education
Early online date20 May 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 May 2016


  • medical students
  • Ireland
  • Irish medical profession
  • student culture
  • sport
  • masculinity
  • medical education


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