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The Company He Keeps: A History of White College Fraternities [Hardcover]

Nicholas L. Syrett

Price: CDN$ 40.42 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

March 1 2009 Gender and American Culture
This title presents Frat boy behavior and its consequences. Here is the first book to recount the full history of white college fraternities in America. Nicholas Syrett traces these organizations from their days in antebellum all-male schools to the sprawling modern-day college campus, paying special attention to how fraternity brothers have defined masculinity over the course of their 180-year history.Based on extensive research at twelve different schools and analyzing at least twenty national fraternities, "The Company He Keeps" explores the formation of what Syrett calls 'fraternal masculinity'. He describes how men have gained prestige and respect, especially from other men, by being masculine. Many factors - such as class, religiosity, race, sexuality, athleticism, intelligence, and recklessness - have contributed to particular versions of fraternal masculinity at different times. Whatever the criteria, Syrett demonstrates the ways that fraternity brothers' masculinity has had consequences for other students on campus as well, not just through exclusion from the organizations themselves but often from college life more broadly. He argues that fraternity men have often proved their masculinity by using their classmates as foils.Syrett also investigates the culture of sexual exploitation that had made its home in college fraternities by the early twentieth century. He offers explanations for the origins of this phenomenon and why it persists. He also recounts the hidden history of gay men who have made their home in college fraternities since the early twentieth century.Readers will find in "The Company He Keeps" not only an engaging history of white college fraternities, but also an insightful account of the evolution of a much more widespread culture of youthful and sexually aggressive masculinity.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 412 pages
  • Publisher: Univ of North Carolina Pr (March 1 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807832537
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807832530
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 16 x 4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 748 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,211,827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"There is a lot to learn from its pages; what is so rewarding about the text is its speculations about the advance--and possibly the decline--of American culture that it provokes. The more deeply Syrett probes, the more one wonders: what is our world comi

About the Author

NICHOLAS L. SYRETT is assistant professor of history at the University of Northern Colorado.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.8 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening Treatment of a Little-Known History May 6 2009
By P. Kranz - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The author has done a superb job of dealing with the little-known history of American fraternities, especially the less-edifying aspects of that history. The book is exceedingly well-researched and well-written. Especially interesting is the author's description of the all-white Protestant fraternity and the nature of the masculinity it promoted.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and well-researched! Feb. 28 2009
By N. Schwartzman - Published on
"The Company He Keeps" is a fascinating book about an under-explored topic- the history of white college fraternities. The author, Nick Syrett, has a vivid writing style and presents his in-depth research in a compelling, entertaining voice. This is a must read for those interested in group behavior, gender relations through a specific historical framework and the embedded role of fraternities in American culture.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent scholarship Dec 8 2009
By Kindle Customer - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Great historical and cultural analysis. I assign this book in my Gender in Higher Education course, and use it as a supplementary reading in my Masculinity in the United States course.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too Focused on Southern White Culture June 21 2014
By FightingScot82 - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Obviously if you focus on fraternity men at southern universities such as Duke, University of North Carolina, and University of MIssissippi in the 19th century, you're going to run into issues of race, class, and privilege. In 2013, Ole Miss is still challenged by those things. There are some great stories in here to better understand the reasoning behind the rapid spread of college fraternal groups in the 19th century, but I feel Mr. Syrett does a disservice by focusing on a limited number of institutions.

I also believe the byline of "A History of White College Fraternities" unnecessarily brings race to the forefront of his book. Racial attitudes and segregation practices were largely reflective of social culture of the time. I disagree with his assertion that fraternities spread as a way to keep non-whites, Catholics, homosexuals, etc. among the lower rungs of the campus culture. Maybe at the southern universities he focused on, but that was hardly the case as even he showcases African American members of college fraternities before 1900.
3 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Eh?? April 12 2013
By GK - Published on
Poorly rationalized and biased towards what he wants to believe. Research is spread thin due to the depth and breadth of the material he attempted to cover and thus preconceived opinions become forced facts. Pass on this one.

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