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The Lost Boys of Zeta Psi

The Lost Boys of Zeta Psi: A Historical Archaeology of Masculinity at a University Fraternity

Laurie A. Wilkie
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Pages: 360
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  • Book Info
    The Lost Boys of Zeta Psi
    Book Description:

    The Lost Boys of Zeta Psitakes us inside the secret, amusing, and sometimes mundane world of a California fraternity around 1900. Gleaning history from recent archaeological excavations and from such intriguing sources as oral histories, architecture, and photographs, Laurie A. Wilkie uncovers details of everyday life in the first fraternity at the University of California, Berkeley, and sets this story into the rich social and historical context of West Coast America at the turn of the last century. In particular, Wilkie examines men's coming-of-age experiences in a period when gender roles and relations were undergoing dramatic changes. Her innovative study illuminates shifting notions of masculinity and at the same time reveals new insights about the inner workings of fraternal orders and their role in American society.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94594-4
    Subjects: Archaeology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. PROLOGUE Peering into the Rooms of a Fraternity’s Far Past
    (pp. 1-28)

    In June of 1907, San Francisco was still reeling from the ongoing impacts of the great earthquake and fire that had physically and psychically gutted the city in April 1906. While electricity, telephone, and car service had been restored, and the sounds of rebuilding echoed in every corner of the city, residents could not help but be exhausted and overwhelmed by the tasks still to be faced. The reopening of theaters and cultural life became an important marker of the city’s revival, and in the months following the earthquake, established vaudev ille acts and theater greats like Sandra Bernhardt toured...

  7. Stage Directions: Setting the Scene
    (pp. 29-44)

    Before the first boys and men of Zeta Psi can walk upon the stage, we must consider the world in which they lived. After all, every character has his history and motivations that propel him forward. It would be easy to get tangled in the vast reaches of history, so I have focused my attention on the period immediately leading up to the founding of Zeta Psi on the University of California campus in 1870. Just as Peter will later lead us to our first view of Never Land from a great height, so must we approach our stage.


  8. ACT I The Nursery: Brotherhood in the First House of Zeta Psi
    (pp. 45-80)

    On the 16th of July 1873, twelve men stood before President Daniel Coit Gilman in the still-unfinished North College (which soon became known as North Hall) to receive their degrees from the University of California.¹ The first building of the new university stood on a cleared, gently rising slope. With its single lonely building and empty surrounds, the campus was still a place of dreams and plans more than of reality—quite fitting for the site of a Never Land. These were the early days of the Never Land that would come to be known as “Cal.” The young men...

  9. ACT II The Never Land: The Fraternity and the University to 1910
    (pp. 81-120)

    Within the confines of their hideout, the men of Zeta Psi created a sense of brotherhood and community, but a broader world and community lay beyond their house. The house was a space where they would begin to slay the feminizing influences on their domesticity, just as the Lost Boys shot Wendy. Never Land is both a time and place. Never Land represents that space where one can escape, for a time, the responsibilities of adulthood, where the inhabitants occupy a liminal social position. In the Never Land that was the University of California, students avoided growing up and created...

  10. ACT III The Mermaids’ Lagoon: Coeds and Pirates Threaten Peter’s Tribe
    (pp. 121-154)

    For James Barrie, Never Land was specifically a place where true fraternity could exist between boys. Never Land held many threats to that camaraderie—pirates, Indians, and a variety of women. Similarly, the University of California campus held threats to fraternity life. Some were visible, including the attacks mounted by known enemies. Defined battles fought with these foes were recounted by generations of brothers over a shared keg of beer. Other threats were more insidious, slowly building strength and remaining unrecognized until it was nearly too late. The weakening fraternal bonds among Zeta Psi’s brothers, and the general degeneration of...

  11. ACT IV The House Underground: Zeta Psi’s New House
    (pp. 155-206)

    When Wendy was brought to Never Land, the Lost Boys built her a little house under Peter Pan’s direction. It was to be a little cottage that she could set up as a domestic space all her own. While Peter wanted the Lost Boys to experience some of the benefits of a domestic presence, such as storytelling and being fussed over, he clearly was not interested in having that domesticity infiltrate the underground home where he and the Lost Boys resided. Whereas the Darling brothers would be housed with the Lost Boys, Wendy was to be alone in her little...

  12. ACT V The Pirate Ship: The Public Face of Iota
    (pp. 207-248)

    The Zetes may have settled their second house at the same location as their first, but just as the ways they lived at that address had changed, so had the social world around them forever changed. Never Land had a new social geography. The new masculinity was an entrenched, lived reality for campus men of the second de cade of the twentieth century and beyond. To be male was now firmly seen as being the opposite of female. “Sissy men” and gay men were recognized as unacceptable types of masculinity, categories that blurred too easily into the performative realm of...

  13. EPILOGUE When the Zetes Grew Up
    (pp. 249-268)

    Alas, it is time to leave Never Land, but at least Peter will play his pipes for us as we prepare to go. We have nearly run the course of our play; only a few matters remain to be considered: How did their experiences in the house under the ground shape the Lost Boys of Zeta Psi as they embarked on lives in the adult world? And how do the experiences of the generations of Zeta Psi men speak to us of fraternal organizations in general; and specifically, what do they say about the abuses commonly found in some fraternities...

  14. APPENDIX Membership of Zeta Psi Iota as Compiled from Alumni Registers, Wall Panels, and Yearbooks
    (pp. 269-280)
  15. NOTES
    (pp. 281-314)
    (pp. 315-336)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 337-343)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 344-344)