TELLING TALES ABOUT MEN: CONCEPTIONS OF CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS TO MILITARY SERVICE DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR by LOIS S. BIBBINGS

DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6478.2010.00526.x
AuthorRICHARD COLLIER
Publication Date01 Dec 2010
Book Reviews
TELLING TALES ABOUT MEN: CONCEPTIONS OF CONSCIENTIOUS
OBJECTORS TO MILITARY SERVICE DURING THE FIRST WORLD
WAR by LOIS S. BIBBINGS
(Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2009, 240 pp.,
£55.00)
The relationship between law, men, and masculinities is a topic that remains
marginal to much mainstream legal scholarship. At international socio-legal
conferences and symposia concerned with law, gender, and sexuality it
remains rare, still, to find workshops focused on this subject. Nonetheless,
there are signs that things are changing and over the past fifteen years or so a
rich picture has emerged within law and society scholarship of the `man' or,
more accurately, the `men' of legal discourse. A now substantial body of
research has unpacked the ways in which ideas about men and gender have
been understood, constructed, or otherwise depicted in law at particular
historical moments. This work has raised important questions about many
aspects of social life, as well as about the variable and contested meanings
that attach to gender. Recent events such as the `Masculinities and the Law'
workshop held at Emory Law School in September 2009 and a symposium
on `Feminist Perspectives in Masculinities' at Harvard Law School in March
2010, are indicative of field of study that is developing rapidly. More legal
scholars are seeking, across diverse areas of law, and via a range of methods,
to reconsider how ideas about men, gender, and masculinities have informed
understandings of law and circulate within legal policy debates.
It is against this backdrop that this fascinating, well-written, an d
impeccably researched book, a socio-cultural study of Britain's First World
War conscientious objectors, appears. Telling Tales is a text that is original,
incisive and, in many respects, moving. It reveals much about the exciting
possibilities of socio-legal research around gender, and as such makes an
important contribution to this growing body of work on men, law, and
gender. The author, Lois Bibbings, is a Senior Lecturer in Law and, over
fifteen years ago, was a key figure in the Centre for Law and Gender Studies
at the University of Bristol involved in conferences that were then seeking to
challenge the way law `lagged behind' other disciplines in the study of the
relationship between law, men, and gender. Drawing on a range of
disciplines and materials, including legal records, diaries, government
papers, novels of the day, magazines, newspapers, and poetry, she has
produced in Telling Tales a socio-cultural study that exemplifies socio-legal
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ß2010 The Author. Journal of Law and Society ß2010 Cardiff University Law School. Published by Blackwell Publishing
Ltd, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA

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