"Greek drama demands a story of origins," writes Karen Bassi in Acting Like Men. Abandoning the search for ritual and native origins of Greek drama, Bassi argues for a more secular and less formalist approach to the emergence of theater in ancient Greece. Bassi takes a broad view of Greek drama as a cultural phenomenon, and she discusses a wide variety of texts and artifacts that include epic poetry, historical narrative, philosophical treatises, visual media, and the dramatic texts themselves.
In her discussion of theaterlike practices and experiences, Bassi proposes new conceptual categories for understanding Greek drama as a cultural institution, viewing theatrical performance as part of what Foucault has called a discursive formation. Bassi also provides an important new analysis of gender in Greek culture at large and in Athenian civic ideology in particular, where spectatorship at the civic theater was a distinguishing feature of citizenship, and where citizenship was denied women. Acting Like Men includes detailed discussions of message-sending as a form of scripted speech in the Iliad, of disguise and the theatrical body of Odysseus in the Odyssey, of tyranny as a theaterlike phenomenon in the narratives of Herodotus, and of Dionysus as the tyrannical and effeminate god of the theater in Euripides' Bacchae and Aristophanes' Frogs. Bassi concludes that the validity of an idealized masculine identity in Greek and Athenian culture is highly contested in the theater, where--in principle--citizens become passive spectators. Thereafter the author considers Athenian theater and Athenian democracy as mutually reinforcing mimetic regimes. Acting Like Men will interest those interested in the history of the theater, performance theory, gender and cultural studies, and feminist approaches to ancient texts.
Karen Bassi is Associate Professor of Classics, University of California, Santa Cruz.
Affirmative Reaction explores the cultural politics of heteronormative white masculine privilege in the United States. Through close readings of texts ranging from the popular television drama 24 to the Marvel Comics miniseries The Call of Duty, and from the reality show American Chopper to the movie Million Dollar Baby, Hamilton Carroll argues that the true privilege of white masculinity—and its defining strategy—is not to be unmarked, universal, or invisible, but to be mobile and mutable. He describes how, in response to the perceived erosions of privilege produced by post–civil rights era identity politics, white masculinity has come to rely on the very discourses of difference that unsettled its claims on the universal; it has redefined itself as a marginalized identity.
Throughout Affirmative Reaction, Carroll examines the kinds of difference white masculinity claims for itself as it attempts to hold onto or maintain majority privilege. Whether these are traditional sites of minority difference—such as Irishness, white trash, or domestic melodrama—or reworked sites of masculinist investment—including laboring bodies, public-sphere politics, and vigilantism—the outcome is the same: the foregrounding of white masculinity over and against women, people of color, and the non-heteronormative. By revealing the strategies through which white masculinity is produced as a formal difference, Carroll sheds new light on the ways that privilege is accrued and maintained.
As Cyndy Hendershot demonstrates, the Gothic is more a mode than a rigid historical period, an "invasive" tendency that reveals the imaginative limits of social realities and literary techniques far beyond its origins in late eighteenth century Britain. And as she demonstrates in this first scholarly treatment of its kind, one of the continuing obsessions of the Gothic mode is masculinity. Masculinity is in some sense a Gothic castle of the imagination, haunted by fears of the body, science, and angry colonial subjects.
The book's keen critical insight, meticulous close readings and cross-cultural comparisons interrogate the historically situated function of masculinity in texts and films that range across the two-hundred year history of the Gothic. Matthew Lewis's The Monk is compared to Philip Kaufman's Invasion of the Body Snatchers to reveal the "hauntedness" of the male body. Hawthorne's short story "The Birthmark" is juxtaposed with J. S. Le Fanu's "Green Tea" to ground the fantastic qualities of the scientific imagination. Conrad's Heart of Darkness converses with Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea about the nature of imperialism. And Jane Campion's film The Piano is figured as an imaginative foray into new forms of masculinity. Utilizing the insights of Lacanian theory, Hendershot demonstrates how the Gothic realm of ghosts, demons, and hidden passages continues to suggest alternative realities to claustrophobic cultural imaginations.
"Masculinity and the Gothic combines solid literary critical insight and close readings in a detailed and lively survey of various manifestations of the gothic within British and American cultural traditions, and admirably explores the connections between various cultural discourses. It will make a fine complement to the numerous recent publications of issues of femininity in the gothic." --Sharon Willis, University of Rochester
Cyndy Hendershot is Assistant Professor of English, Arkansas State University.
Exemplified by President Donald J. Trump’s slogan “Make American Great Again,” white masculinity has become increasingly organized around melancholic attachments to an imagined past when white men were still atop the social hierarchy. How and why are white men increasingly identifying as victims of social, economic, and political change? Casey Ryan Kelly’s Apocalypse Man seeks to answer this question by examining textual and performative examples of white male rhetoric—as found among online misogynist and incel communities, survivalists and “doomsday preppers,” gender-motivated mass shooters, gun activists, and political demagogues. Using sources ranging from reality television and Reddit manifestos to gun culture and political rallies, Kelly ultimately argues that death, victimhood, and fatalism have come to underwrite the constitution of contemporary white masculinity.
In Archiving Mexican Masculinities in Diaspora, Nicole M. Guidotti-Hernández challenges machismo—a shorthand for racialized and heteronormative Latinx men's misogyny—with nuanced portraits of Mexican men and masculinities along and across the US-Mexico border. Guidotti-Hernández foregrounds Mexican men's emotional vulnerabilities and intimacies in their diasporic communities. Highlighting how Enrique Flores Magón, an anarchist political leader and journalist, upended gender norms through sentimentality and emotional vulnerability that he performed publicly and expressed privately, Guidotti-Hernández documents compelling continuities between his expressions and those of men enrolled in the Bracero program. Braceros—more than 4.5 million Mexican men who traveled to the United States to work in temporary agricultural jobs from 1942 to 1964—forged domesticity and intimacy, sharing affection but also physical violence. Through these case studies that reexamine the diasporic male private sphere, Guidotti-Hernández formulates a theory of transnational Mexican masculinities rooted in emotional and physical intimacy that emerged from the experiences of being racial, political, and social outsiders in the United States.
In war films, the portrayal of deep friendships between men is commonplace. Given the sexually anxious nature of the American imagination, such bonds are often interpreted as carrying a homoerotic subtext. In Armed Forces , Robert Eberwein argues that an expanded conception of masculinity and sexuality is necessary in order to understand more fully the intricacy of these intense and emotional human relationships. Drawing on a range of examples from silent films such as What Price Glory and Wings to sound era works like The Deer Hunter, Platoon, Three Kings, and Pearl Harbor , he shows how close readings of war films, particularly in relation to their cultural contexts, demonstrate that depictions of heterosexual love, including those in romantic triangles, actually help to define and clarify the nonsexual nature of male love. The book also explores the problematic aspects of masculinity and sexuality when threatened by wounds, as in The Best Years of Our Lives, and considers the complex and persistent analogy between weapons and the male body, as in Full Metal Jacket and Saving Private Ryan .
Americans love to hate consumerism. Scholars, intellectuals, musicians, and writers of all kinds take pleasure in complaining that consumer culture endangers the "real" things in life, including self-determination and individualism. In Authenticity Guaranteed, Sally Robinson brings to light the unacknowledged gender and class assumptions of anti-consumerist critique in the second half of the twentieth century. American anti-consumerism, despite its apparent complexity, takes a remarkably consistent and predictable narrative form. From the mid-century Organization Man to the millennial No Logo, anti-consumerist critique reinforces the gender order by insisting that authenticity is threatened, and masculine agency curtailed, by the feminizing forces of consumer culture.
Robinson identifies a tradition of masculine protest and rebellion against feminization in iconic texts such as The Catcher in the Rye and Fight Club, as well as in critiques of postmodernism, academic denunciations of shopping, and a variety of other discourses that aim to diagnose what ails American consumer culture. This fresh and timely argument enters into conversation with a wide range of existing scholarship and opens up new questions for scholarly and political discussion.
Philip Holden reveals deeply gendered connections between the writing of individual lives and of the narratives of nations emerging from colonialism. Autobiography and Decolonization is the first book to give serious academic attention to autobiographies of nationalist leaders in the process of decolonization, attending to them not simply as partial historical documents, but as texts involved in remaking the world views of their readers.
Holden examines Mohandas K. Gandhi’s An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth, Marcus Garvey’s fragmentary Autobiography,Joseph Ephraim Casely Hayford’s Ethiopia Unbound, Lee Kuan Yew’s The Singapore Story, Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom, Jawaharlal Nehru’s An Autobiography, and Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana:The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah.
Holden argues that these examples of life writing have had significant influence on the formation of new, and often profoundly gendered, national identities. These narratives constitute the nation less as an imagined community than as an imagined individual. Moving from the past to the promise of the future, they mediate relationships between public and private, and between individual and collective stories. Ultimately, they show how the construction of modern selfhood is inextricably linked to the construction of a postcolonial polity.