Ive started reading a very interesting book: William Ian Miller, Humiliation: and other essays on honor, social discomfort and violence. A very readable blend of anthropology, medieval history (hes an expert on Icelandic sagas) and psychology and I think potentially useful for my project. It brings together three things Im currently thinking about in respect of masculinity: emotions, honour and violence. I need to think about gendered honour in the Carolingian world, but its such a slippery concept, especially when honor is a word of such multiple meanings. Im not sure whether in itself talking about honour societies is helpful, or whether its just a black box explanation: one that slots in an anthropological concept without actually giving much more insight. Theres an awful lot of difference between bushido and chivalric codes, even if theyre both codes of honour. I think to be useful, you need to look at the details of honour: what events count, who counts and what the response ought to be. The problem is how to do that when the sources dont often specifically discuss honour. This is where a comment by Stephen White in a paper in Angers Past (edited by Barbara Rosenwein) comes in. He suggests:
One important step to taking in explaining lordly anger during the central Middle Ages would be to treat the sense of honor as something that mediates between the inner emotional worlds of upper-class males and the outer world of politics, where, at critical junctures, anger and other emotions have the potential to become powerful political forces.
If honour is a filter through which emotions and reactions (such as violence) are expressed, then working back through such expressions (which narrative sources do often give) may help reconstruct at least the outlines of any code of honour. It seems one approach at least, so Im off to look at texts and trace emotions.