"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.
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.
From Frederick Douglass to the present, the preoccupation of black writers with manhood and masculinity is a constant. Black Manhood in James Baldwin, Ernest J. Gaines, and August Wilson explores how in their own work three major African American writers contest classic portrayals of black men in earlier literature, from slave narratives through the great novels of Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison.
Keith Clark examines short stories, novels, and plays by Baldwin, Gaines, and Wilson, arguing that since the 1950s the three have interrupted and radically dismantled the constricting literary depictions of black men who equate selfhood with victimization, isolation, and patriarchy. Instead, they have reimagined black men whose identity is grounded in community, camaraderie, and intimacy.
Delivering original and startling insights, this book will appeal to scholars and students of African American literature, gender studies, and narratology.
Through economic liberalization and the untethering of labor and production markets, masculinity as hegemon has entered a crisis stage. Renegotiated labor and familial orders have triggered a widespread cultural renegotiation of how masculinity operates and is represented. This holds especially true in Latin America.
Addressing this, Vinodh Venkatesh uses contemporary Latin American literature to examine how masculinity is constructed and conceived. The Body as Capital centers socioeconomic and political concerns, anxieties, and paradigms on the male anatomy and on the matrices of masculinities presented in fiction. Developing concepts such as the “market of masculinities” and the “transnational theater of masculinities,” the author explains how contemporary fiction centers the male body and masculine expressions as key components in the relationship between culture, space, and global tensile forces.
Venkatesh includes novels by canonical and newer writers from Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, Peru, and Chile. He focuses on texts produced after 1990, coinciding with what has popularly been termed the neoliberal experiment. In addition to probing well-known novels such as La fiesta del Chivo and La mujer habitada and their accompanying body of criticism, The Body as Capital defines and examines several masculine tropes that will be of interest to scholars of contemporary Latin American literature and gender studies. Ultimately, Venkatesh argues for a more holistic approximation of discursive gender that will feed into other angles of criticism, forging a new path in the critical debates over gender and sexuality in Latin American writing.
In this groundbreaking book, Ken Parille seeks to do for nineteenth-century boys what the past three decades of scholarship have done for girls: show how the complexities of the fiction and educational materials written about them reflect the lives they lived. While most studies of nineteenth-century boyhood have focused on post-Civil War male novelists, Parille explores a broader archive of writings by male and female authors, extending from 1830-1885.
Boys at Home offers a series of arguments about five pedagogical modes: play-adventure, corporal punishment, sympathy, shame, and reading. The first chapter demonstrates that, rather than encouraging boys to escape the bonds of domesticity, scenes of play in boys’ novels reproduce values associated with the home. Chapter 2 argues that debates about corporal punishment are crucial sources for the culture’s ideas about gender difference and pedagogical practice. In chapter 3, “The Medicine of Sympathy,” Parille examines the affective nature of mother-daughter and mother-son bonds, emphasizing the special difficulties that “boy-nature” posed for women. The fourth chapter uses boys’ conduct literature and Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women – the preeminent chronicle of girlhood in the century – to investigate not only Alcott’s fictional representations of shame-centered discipline but also pervasive cultural narratives about what it means to “be a man.” Focusing on works by Lydia Sigourney and Francis Forrester, the final chapter considers arguments about the effects that fictional, historical, and biographical narratives had on a boy’s sense of himself and his masculinity.
Boys at Home is an important contribution to the emerging field of masculinity studies. In addition, this provocative volume brings new insight to the study of childhood, women’s writing, and American culture.
Ken Parille is assistant professor of English at East Carolina University. His articles have appeared in Children’s Literature, Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, Papers on Language and Literature, and Children’s Literature Association Quarterly.
Why does passion bewilder and torment so many Victorian protagonists? And why do so many literary characters experience moments of ecstasy before their deaths? In this original study, Christopher Lane shows why Victorian fiction conveys both the pleasure and anguish of intimacy. Examining works by Bulwer-Lytton, Swinburne, Schreiner, Hardy, James, Santayana, and Forster, he argues that these writers struggled with aspects of psychology that were undermining the utilitarian ethos of the Victorian age.
Lane discredits the conservative notion that Victorian literature expresses only a demand for repression and moral restraint. But he also refutes historicist and Foucauldian approaches, arguing that they dismiss the very idea of repression and end up denouncing psychoanalysis as complicit in various kinds of oppression. These approaches, Lane argues, reduce Victorian literature to a drama about politics, power, and the ego. Striving instead to reinvigorate discussions of fantasy and the unconscious, Lane offers a clear, often startling account of writers who grapple with the genuine complexities of love, desire, and friendship.
How did the public expression of feeling become central to political culture in England and the United States? In this ambitious revisionist account of a much expanded "Age of Sensibility," Julie Ellison traces the evolution of the politics of emotion on both sides of the Atlantic from the late seventeenth to the early nineteenth century.
Early popular dramas of this time, Ellison shows, linked male stoicism with sentimentality through portrayals of stoic figures whose civic sacrifices bring other men to tears. Later works develop a different model of sensibility, drawing their objects of sympathy from other races and classes—Native Americans, African slaves, servants. Only by examining these texts in light of the complex masculine tradition of stoic sentimentality, Ellison argues, can one interpret women's roles in the culture of sensibility.
In her conclusion, Ellison offers "a short history of liberal guilt," exploring the enduring link between male stoicism and male sensibility in political and cultural life from the late seventeenth century to today.
In a sensitive and provocative
study of six great works of British literature, David Rosen traces the evolution
of masculinity, inviting readers to contemplate the shifting joys and sorrows
men have experienced throughout the last millennium, and the changing but constant
tensions between their lives and ideals. Focusing on Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Hamlet, Paradise Lost, Hard Times, and Sons and Lovers, Rosen shows how the actions of heroes fail to resolve tensions between
masculine ideals and male experiences.
Cold Warriors: Manliness on Trial in the Rhetoric of the West returns to familiar cultural forces—the West, anticommunism, and manliness—to show how they combined to suppress dissent and dominate the unruliness of literature in the name of a national identity after World War II. Few realize how much the domination of a “white male” American literary canon was a product not of long history, but of the Cold War. Suzanne Clark describes here how the Cold War excluded women writers on several levels, together with others—African American, Native American, poor, men as well as women—who were ignored in the struggle over white male identity.
Clark first shows how defining national/individual/American identity in the Cold War involved a brand new configuration of cultural history. At the same time, it called upon the nostalgia for the old discourses of the West (the national manliness asserted by Theodore Roosevelt) to claim that there was and always had been only one real American identity.
By subverting the claims of a national identity, Clark finds, many male writers risked falling outside the boundaries not only of public rhetoric but also of the literary world: men as different from one another as the determinedly masculine Ernest Hemingway and the antiheroic storyteller of the everyday, Bernard Malamud. Equally vocal and contentious, Cold War women writers were unwilling to be silenced, as Clark demonstrates in her discussion of the work of Mari Sandoz and Ursula Le Guin.
The book concludes with a discussion of how the silencing of gender, race, and class in Cold War writing maintained its discipline until the eruptions of the sixties. By questioning the identity politics of manliness in the Cold War context of persecution and trial, Clark finds that the involvement of men in identity politics set the stage for our subsequent cultural history.
How did men become the stars of the Mexican intellectual scene? Dude Lit examines the tricks of the trade and reveals that sometimes literary genius rests on privileges that men extend one another and that women permit.
The makings of the “best” writers have to do with superficial aspects, like conformist wardrobes and unsmiling expressions, and more complex techniques, such as friendship networks, prizewinners who become judges, dropouts who become teachers, and the key tactic of being allowed to shift roles from rule maker (the civilizado) to rule breaker (the bárbaro). Certain writing habits also predict success, with the “high and hard” category reserved for men’s writing and even film directing. In both film and literature, critically respected artwork by men tends to rely on obscenity interpreted as originality, negative topics viewed as serious, and coolly inarticulate narratives about bullying understood as maximum literary achievement.
To build the case regarding “rebellion as conformity,” Dude Lit contemplates a wide set of examples while always returning to three figures, each born some two decades apart from the immediate predecessor: Juan Rulfo (with Pedro Páramo), José Emilio Pacheco (with Las batallas en el desierto), and Guillermo Fadanelli (with Mis mujeres muertas, as well as the range of his publications). Why do we believe Mexican men are competent performers of the role of intellectual? Dude Lit answers this question through a creative intersection of sources. Drawing on interviews, archival materials, and critical readings, this provocative book changes the conversation on literature and gendered performance.
Throughout its history, the city of Rome has inspired writers to describe its majesty, to situate themselves within its sweeping landscape, and to comment upon its contribution to their own identity. The Roman elegiac poet Propertius was one such author. This final published collection, issued in 16 BCE, has been traditionally read as an abandonment by Propertius of his earlier flippant love poems for a more mature engagement with Roman public life or else a comical send-up of imperial policies as embodied in Rome’s public buildings. The relationship between poet and city is complicated at every turn with the presence in the background of the emperor Augustus, whose sustained artistic patronage of Roman monuments brought about the most pervasive transformation that the cityscape had yet seen.
The Elegiac Cityscape explores Propertius’ Rome and the various ways his poetry about the city illuminates the dynamic relationship between one individual and his environment. Combining the approaches of archaeology and literary criticism, Tara S. Welch examines how Propertius’ poems on Roman places scrutinize the monumentalization of various ideological positions in Rome, as they poke and prod Rome’s monuments to see what further meanings they might admit. The result is a poetic book rife with different perspectives on the eternal city, perspectives that often call into question any sleepy or complacent adherence to Rome’s traditional values.
Fathers, Preachers, Rebels, Men: Black Masculinity in U.S. History and Literature, 1820–1945,edited by Timothy R. Buckner and Peter Caster, brings together scholars of history and literature focused on the lives and writing of black men during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the United States. The interdisciplinary study demonstrates the masculine character of cultural practices developed from slavery through segregation. Black masculinity embodies a set of contradictions, including an often mistaken threat of violence, the belief in its legitimacy, and the rhetorical union of truth and fiction surrounding slavery, segregation, resistance, and self-determination. The attention to history and literature is necessary because so many historical depictions of black men are rooted in fiction. The essays of this collection balance historical and literary accounts, and they join new descriptions of familiar figures such as Charles W. Chesnutt and W. E. B. Du Bois with the less familiar but critically important William Johnson and Nat Love.
The 2008 election of Barack Obama is a tremendously significant event in the vexed matter of race in the United States. However, the racial subtext of recent radical political movements and the 2009 arrest of scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., demonstrate that the perceived threat posed by black masculinity to the nation’s unity and vitality remains an alarming one in the cultural imagination.
Merging psychoanalytic and queer theory perspectives, The Fragility of Manhood: Hawthorne, Freud, and the Politics of Gender reframes Nathaniel Hawthorne’s work as a critique of the normative construction of American male identity. Revising Freudian and Lacanian literary theory and establishing the concepts of narcissism and the gaze as central, David Greven argues that Hawthorne represents normative masculinity as fundamentally dependent on the image. In ways that provocatively intersect with psychoanalytic theory, Hawthorne depicts subjectivity as identification with an illusory and deceptive image of wholeness and unity. As Hawthorne limns it, male narcissism both defines and decenters male heterosexual authority. Moreover, in Greven’s view, Hawthorne critiques hegemonic manhood’s recourse to domination as a symptom of the traumatic instabilities at the core of traditional models of male identity. Hawthorne’s representation of masculinity as psychically fragile has powerful implications for his depictions of female and queer subjectivity in works such as the tales “Rappaccini’s Daughter” and “The Gentle Boy,” the novel The Blithedale Romance, and Hawthorne’s critically neglected late, unfinished writings, such as Septimius Felton. Rereading Freud from a queer theory perspective, Greven reframes Freudian theory as a radical critique of traditional models of gender subjectivity that has fascinating overlaps with Hawthorne’s work. In the chapter “Visual Identity,” Greven also discusses the agonistic relationship between Hawthorne and Herman Melville and the intersection of queer themes, Hellenism, and classical art in their travel writings, The Marble Faun, and Billy Budd.
An investigation into Wharton’s extensive use and adaptation of the Gothic in her fiction
Gender and the Gothic in the Fiction of Edith Wharton is an innovative study that provides fresh insights into Wharton’s male characters while at the same time showing how Wharton’s imagining of a fe/male self evolves throughout her career. Using feminist archetypal theory and theory of the female Gothic, Kathy A. Fedorko shows how Wharton, in sixteen short stories and six major novels written during four distinct periods of her life, adopts and adapts Gothic elements to explore the nature of feminine and masculine ways of knowing and being and to dramatize the tension between them.
Edith Wharton’s contradictory views of women and men—her attitudes toward the feminine and the masculine—reflect a complicated interweaving of family and social environment, historical time, and individual psychology. Studies of Wharton have exhibited this same kind of contradiction, with some seeing her as disparaging men and the masculine and others depicting her as disparaging women and the feminine. The use of Gothic elements in her fiction provided Wharton, who was often considered the consummate realist, with a way to dramatize the conflict between feminine and masculine selves as she experienced them and to evolve an alternative to the dualism.
Fedorko’s work is unique in its careful consideration of Wharton’s sixteen Gothic works, which are seldom discussed. Further, the revelation of how these Gothic stories are reflected in her major realistic novels. In the novels with Gothic texts, Wharton draws multiple parallels between male and female protagonists, indicating the commonalities between women and men and the potential for a female self. Eventually, in her last completed novel and her last short story, Wharton imagines human beings who are comfortable with both gender selves.
Taking on nothing less than the formation of modern genders and sexualities, Thomas A. King develops a history of the political and performative struggles that produced both normative and queer masculinities in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The result is a major contribution to gender studies, gay studies, and theater and performance history. The Gendering of Men, 1600–1750 traces the transition from a society based on alliance, which had subordinated all men, women, and boys to higher ranked males, to one founded in sexuality, through which men have embodied their claims to personal and political privacy. King proposes that the male body is a performative production marking men’s resistance to their subjection within patriarchy and sovereignty. Emphasizing that categories of gender must come under historical analysis, The Gendering of Men explores men’s particpation in an ongoing struggle for access to a universal manliness transcending other biological and social differentials.
The queer man’s mode of embodiment—his gestural and vocal style, his posture and gait, his occupation of space—remembers a political history. To gesture with the elbow held close to the body, to affect a courtly lisp, or to set an arm akimbo with the hand turned back on the hip is to cite a history in which the sovereign body became the effeminate and sodomitical and, finally, the homosexual body. In Queer Articulations, Thomas A. King argues that the Anglo-American queer body publicizes a history of resistance to the gendered terms whereby liberal subjectivities were secured in early modern England.
Arguing that queer agency preceded and enabled the formulation of queer subjectivities, Queer Articulations investigates theatricality and sodomy as performance practices foreclosed in the formation of gendered privacy and consequently available for resistant uses by male-bodied persons who have been positioned, or who have located themselves, outside the universalized public sphere of citizen-subjects. By defining queerness as the lack or failure of private pleasures, rather than an alternative pleasure or substance in its own right, eighteenth-century discourses reconfigured publicness as the mark of difference from the naturalized, private bodies of liberal subjects.
Inviting a performance-centered, interdisciplinary approach to queer/male identities, King develops a model of queerness as processual activity, situated in time and place but irreducible to the individual subject's identifications, desires, and motivations.
In The Genuine Article Paul Gilmore examines the interdependence of literary and mass culture at a crucial moment in U. S. history. Demonstrating from a new perspective the centrality of race to the construction of white manhood across class lines, Gilmore argues that in the years before the Civil War, as literature increasingly became another commodity in the capitalist cultural marketplace, American authors appropriated middle-brow and racially loaded cultural forms to bolster their masculinity. From characters in Indian melodramas and minstrel shows to exhibits in popular museums and daguerrotype galleries, primitive racialized figures circulated as “the genuine article” of manliness in the antebellum United States. Gilmore argues that these figures were manipulated, translated, and adopted not only by canonical authors such as Hawthorne, Thoreau, Cooper, and Melville but also by African American and Native American writers like William Wells Brown and Okah Tubbee. By examining how these cultural notions of race played out in literary texts and helped to construct authorship as a masculine profession, Gilmore makes a unique contribution to theories of class formation in nineteenth-century America. The Genuine Article will enrich students and scholars of American studies, gender studies, literature, history, sociology, anthropology, popular culture, and race.
Despite the proliferation of criticism on the cultural work of the Harlem Renaissance over the course of the past two decades, surprisingly few critics have focused on the ways in which religious contexts shaped the works of New Negro writers and artists during that time. In Goodbye Christ? Christianity, Masculinity, and the New Negro Renaissance, Peter Kerry Powers fills this scholarly void, exploring how the intersection of race, religion, and gender during the Harlem Renaissance impacted the rhetoric and imagination of prominent African American writers of the early twentieth century.
In order to best understand the secular academic thought that arose during the Harlem Renaissance period, Powers argues, readers must first understand the religious contexts from which it grew. By illustrating how religion informed the New Negro movement, and through his analysis of a range of texts, Powers delineates the ways in which New Negro writers of the early twentieth century sought to loosen the grip of Christianity on the racial imagination, thereby clearing a space for their own cultural work—and for the development of a secular African American intelligentsia generally.
In addition to his examination of well-known authors, including W. E. B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, and Zora Neale Hurston, Powers also offers an illuminating perspective on lesser-known figures, including Reverdy Ransom and Frederick Cullen. In his exploration of the role of race and religion at the time, Powers employs an intersectional approach to religion and gender, and especially masculinity, that sets the discussion on fertile new ground.
Goodbye Christ? answers the call for a body of work that considers religion as a relevant precursor to the secular intelligentsia that grew during the Harlem Renaissance in the early 1900s. By offering a complete look at the tensions that arose between churches and Harlem Renaissance writers and artists, readers can gain a better understanding of the work that Harlem Renaissance writers undertook during the early decades of the twentieth century.
Guys Like Us considers how writers of the 1950s and '60s struggled to craft literature that countered the politics of consensus and anticommunist hysteria in America, and how notions of masculinity figured in their effort. Michael Davidson examines a wide range of postwar literature, from the fiction of Jack Kerouac to the poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks, Frank O'Hara, Elizabeth Bishop, and Sylvia Plath. He also explores the connection between masculinity and sexuality in films such as Chinatown and The Lady from Shanghai, as well as television shows, plays, and magazines from the period. What results is a virtuoso work that looks at American poetic and artistic innovation through the revealing lenses of gender and history.
Christopher Breu University of Minnesota Press, 2005 Library of Congress PS374.M37B74 2005 | Dewey Decimal 813.509353
The persona of the American male in the period between the two world wars was characterized by physical strength, emotional detachment, aggressive behavior, and an amoral worldview. This ideal of a hard-boiled masculinity can be seen in the pages and, even more vividly, on the covers of magazines such as Black Mask, which shifted from Victorian-influenced depictions of men in top hats and mustaches in the early 1920s to the portrayal of much more overtly violent and muscular men.
Looking closely at this transformation, Christopher Breu offers a complex account of how and why hard-boiled masculinity emerged during an unsettled time of increased urbanization and tenuous peace and traces the changes in its cultural conception as it moved back and forth across the divide between high and low culture as well as the color line that bifurcated American society.
Examining the work of Ernest Hemingway, Dashiell Hammett, Chester Himes, and William Faulkner, as well as many lesser-known writers for the hypermasculine pulp magazines of the 1920s and 1930s, Breu illustrates how the tough male was a product of cultural fantasy, one that shored up gender and racial stereotypes as a way of lashing out at the destabilizing effects of capitalism and social transformation.
Christopher Breu is assistant professor of English at Illinois State University.
"Canonized for being insufficiently American although he took America as his subject, chastised for obscurity by readers who would not allow or would not read homosexual meanings, Crane embodies many understandings of America, and of the predicament of the gay writer."—Voice Literary Supplement
"A brilliant critical model for understanding how textuality and sexuality can produce pervasive effects on each other in the writing of a figure like Crane."—Michael Moon, Duke University
Four essential questions: Why does one fish? How should one properly fish? What relations are created in fishing? And what effects does fishing have on the future? Haunted by Waters is a self-examination by the author as he constructs his own narrative and tries to answer these questions for himself. But it is also a thorough examination of the answers he uncovers in the course of reading what's been written on the subject.
As his own story unfolds, Mark Browning analyzes angling literature from the Bible to Norman Maclean, always bringing his inquiry back to the same source: the enigma of this sport.
Haunted by Waters is an exploration of the apparent compulsion of those who fish not only to read about the sport, but to write about it as well. Mark Browning's personal account as a fly fisherman and his perspective as a critic make him uniquely qualified to navigate these waters.
Challenging widely held assumptions about postwar gay male culture and politics, Homosexuality in Cold War America examines how gay men in the 1950s resisted pressures to remain in the closet. Robert J. Corber argues that a form of gay male identity emerged in the 1950s that simultaneously drew on and transcended left-wing opposition to the Cold War cultural and political consensus. Combining readings of novels, plays, and films of the period with historical research into the national security state, the growth of the suburbs, and postwar consumer culture, Corber examines how gay men resisted the "organization man" model of masculinity that rose to dominance in the wake of World War II. By exploring the representation of gay men in film noir, Corber suggests that even as this Hollywood genre reinforced homophobic stereotypes, it legitimized the gay male "gaze." He emphasizes how film noir’s introduction of homosexual characters countered the national "project" to render gay men invisible, and marked a deep subversion of the Cold War mentality. Corber then considers the work of gay male writers Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal, and James Baldwin, demonstrating how these authors declined to represent homosexuality as a discrete subculture and instead promoted a model of political solidarity rooted in the shared experience of oppression. Homosexuality in Cold War America reveals that the ideological critique of the dominant culture made by gay male authors of the 1950s laid the foundation for the gay liberation movement of the following decade.
In Stalinist Russia, the idealized Soviet man projected an image of strength, virility, and unyielding drive in his desire to build a powerful socialist state. In monuments, posters, and other tools of cultural production, he became the demigod of Communist ideology. But beneath the surface of this fantasy, between the lines of texts and in film, lurked another figure: the wounded body of the heroic invalid, the second version of Stalin's New Man.
In How the Soviet Man Was Unmade, Lilya Kaganovsky exposes the paradox behind the myth of the indestructible Stalinist-era male. In her analysis of social-realist literature and cinema, she examines the recurring theme of the mutilated male body, which appears with startling frequency. Kaganovsky views this representation as a thinly veiled statement about the emasculated male condition during the Stalinist era. Because the communist state was “full of heroes,” a man could only truly distinguish himself and attain hero status through bodily sacrifice-yet in his wounding, he was forever reminded that he would be limited in what he could achieve, and was expected to remain in a state of continued subservience to Stalin and the party.
Kaganovsky provides an insightful reevaluation of classic works of the period, including the novels of Nikolai Ostrovskii (How Steel Was Tempered) and Boris Polevoi (A Story About a Real Man), and films such as Ivan Pyr'ev's The Party Card, Eduard Pentslin's The Fighter Pilots, and Mikhail Chiaureli's The Fall of Berlin, among others. The symbolism of wounding and dismemberment in these works acts as a fissure in the facade of Stalinist cultural production through which we can view the consequences of historic and political trauma.
Exploring the intersection of ideas about woman, subjectivity, and literary authority, Impressionist Subjects reveals the female subject as crucial in framing contradictions central to modernism, particularly the tension between modernism's claim to timeless art and its critique of historical conditions.
Against the backdrop of the New Woman movement of the 1890s, Tamar Katz establishes literary impressionism as integral to modernist form and to the modernist project of investigating the nature and function of subjectivity. Focusing on a duality common to impressionism and contemporary ideas of feminine subjectivity, Katz shows how the New Woman reconciled the paradox of a subject at once immersed in the world and securely enclosed in a mysterious interiority.
Katz reads Walter Pater's aestheticism in the context of Victorian domestic ideology, a world split between safe interiors and risky exteriors. She uses some of the central debates of the 1890s on women's knowledge and interiority to illuminate fiction by George Egerton, Sarah Grand, and Henry James. She looks at how Lord Jim and The Good Soldier project a universalized masculine narrator against a vision of female subjectivity that is too close for comfort. She also considers Dorothy Richardson's Pilgrimage and Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway and The Waves /i> as impressionist experiments that explore the complexity of the connection between modernist abstraction and feminine subjectivity.
Sophisticated and tightly argued, Impressionist Subjects is a substantial contribution to the reassessment and expansion of the modernist fiction canon.
In James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, and the Rhetorics of Black Male Subjectivity, Aaron Ngozi Oforlea explores the rhetorical strategies that Baldwin’s and Morrison’s black male characters employ as they negotiate discourses of race, class, gender, and sexuality. According to Oforlea, these characters navigate a discursive divide that separates limiting representations of black males in dominant discourses from a decolonized and empowered subjectivity. Specifically, the discursive divide creates an invisible boundary between how black subjects are seen, imagined, and experienced in dominant culture on the one hand, and how they understand themselves on the other.
Oforlea’s book offers new analyses of the character dynamics in Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain, Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone, and If Beale Street Could Talkand Morrison’s Beloved, Song of Solomon, and Tar Baby. The black male characters in these novels encounter the discursive divide, or a cultural dissonance, when they encounter dominant representations of black male identities. They use these opportunities to construct a counter-discourse about black male subjectivity. Ultimately, Oforlea argues, these characters are strategic about when and how they want to appropriate and subvert dominant ideologies. Their awareness that post-racial discourses perpetuate racial inequality serves as a gateway toward participation in collective struggles for racial justice.
Colonialism left an indelible mark on writers from the Caribbean. Many of the mid-century male writers, on the eve of independence, looked to England for their models. The current generation of authors, many of whom are women, have increasingly looked—and relocated—to the United States. Incorporating postcolonial theory, West Indian literature, feminist theory, and African American literary criticism, Making Men carves out a particular relationship between the Caribbean canon—as represented by C. L. R. James and V. S. Naipaul, among others—and contemporary Caribbean women writers such as Jean Rhys, and Jamaica Kincaid, Paule Marshall, and Michelle Cliff, who now live in the United States.
Discussing the canonical Caribbean narrative as it reflects national identity under the domination of English cultural authority, Belinda Edmondson focuses particularly on the pervasive influence of Victorian sensibilities in the structuring of twentieth-century national identity. She shows that issues of race and English constructions of masculinity not only are central to West Indian identity but also connect Caribbean authorship to the English literary tradition. This perspective on the origins of West Indian literary nationalism then informs Edmondson’s search for female subjectivity in current literature by West Indian women immigrants in America. Making Men compares the intellectual exile of men with the economic migration of women, linking the canonical male tradition to the writing of modern West Indian women and exploring how the latter write within and against the historical male paradigm in the continuing process of national definition. With theoretical claims that invite new discourse on English, Caribbean, and American ideas of exile, migration, race, gender identity, and literary authority, Making Men will be informative reading for those involved with postcolonial theory, African American and women’s studies, and Caribbean literature.
Writing during the reign of emperors Trajan and Hadrian, Juvenal drew on Roman legend and the history of preceding imperial dynasties as a means of scrutinizing cultural upheavals in the Rome of his day. Tacky foreigners, the nouveaux riches, women who don’t know their place, bloodthirsty—even crazy—emperors and their (often worse) wives confront the reader at every turn, along with bad poets, corrupt aristocrats, gladiators, whores, false philosophers, sad-sack men in the street, and slaves. Juvenal’s poetry set the tone, and often the topics, for satirists throughout the centuries of European literature.
In his sixteen verse satires, Juvenal presents speakers who decry the breakdown in traditional Roman values and the status of Roman men as they are confronted by upstart foreigners, devious and deviant women, class traitors, the power of the imperial household, and even the body itself. The satirist castigates vice and immorality even as he revels in describing them. This book locates Juvenal’s targets among the matrices of birth, wealth, class, gender, and ethnicity and walks carefully through a number of his most arresting vignettes in order to show not only what, but how, he satirizes. Moreover, the analysis shows that Juvenal’s portraits sometimes escape his grasp, and, as often as not, he ends up undermining the voice with which he speaks and the values he claims to hold dear. Individual chapters look at the satirist himself, rebellious bodies, disgraced aristocrats, uppity (even murderous) wives, and the necessary but corrupting power of money. The conclusion considers the endurance of both the targets and the rhetoric behind them in the modern world.
Making Men Ridiculous will interest scholars and advanced students of ancient satire, later European satire, imperial Roman culture and literature, and class, gender, and sexuality in the ancient world.
When Jack London died in 1916 at age forty, he was one of the most famous writers of his time. Eighty years later he remains one of the most widely read American authors in the world. The first major critical study of London to appear in a decade, Male Call analyzes the nature of his appeal by closely examining how the struggling young writer sought to promote himself in his early work as a sympathetic, romantic man of letters whose charismatic masculinity could carry more significance than his words themselves. Jonathan Auerbach shows that London’s personal identity was not a basis of his literary success, but rather a consequence of it. Unlike previous studies of London that are driven by the author’s biography, Male Call examines how London carefully invented a trademark “self” in order to gain access to a rapidly expanding popular magazine and book market that craved authenticity, celebrity, power, and personality. Auerbach demonstrates that only one fact of London’s life truly shaped his art: his passionate desire to become a successful author. Whether imagining himself in stories and novels as a white man on trail in the Yukon, a sled dog, a tramp, or a professor; or engaging questions of manhood and mastery in terms of work, race, politics, class, or sexuality, London created a public persona for the purpose of exploiting the conventions of the publishing world and marketplace. Revising critical commonplaces about both Jack London’s work and the meaning of “nature” within literary naturalism and turn-of-the-century ideologies of masculinity, Auerbach’s analysis intriguingly complicates our view of London and sheds light on our own postmodern preoccupation with celebrity. Male Call will attract readers with an interest in American studies, American literature, gender studies, and cultural studies.
Demonstrates how concepts of masculinity shaped the aesthetic foundations of literary naturalism.
A Man's Game explores the development of American literary naturalism as it relates to definitions of manhood in many of the movement's key texts and the aesthetic goals of writers such as Stephen Crane, Jack London, Frank Norris, Edith Wharton, Charles Chestnutt, and James Weldon Johnson. John Dudley argues that in the climate of the late 19th century, when these authors were penning their major works, literary endeavors were widely viewed as frivolous, the work of ladies for ladies, who comprised the vast majority of the dependable reading public. Male writers such as Crane and Norris defined themselves and their work in contrast to this perception of literature. Women like Wharton, on the other hand, wrote out of a skeptical or hostile reaction to the expectations of them as woman writers.
Dudley explores a number of social, historical, and cultural developments that catalyzed the masculine impulse underlying literary naturalism: the rise of spectator sports and masculine athleticism; the professional role of the journalist, adopted by many male writers, allowing them to camouflage their primary role as artist; and post-Darwinian interest in the sexual component of natural selection. A Man's Game also explores the surprising adoption of a masculine literary naturalism by African-American writers at the beginning of the 20th century, a strategy, despite naturalism's emphasis on heredity and genetic determinism, that helped define the black struggle for racial equality.
In Masculinist Impulses, Nathan Grant begins his analysis of African American texts by focusing on the fragmentation of values of black masculinity—free labor, self-reliance, and responsibility to family and community—as a result of slavery, postbellum disfranchisement, and the ensuing necessity to migrate from the agrarian South to the industrialized North. Through examinations of novels that deal with black male selfhood, Grant demonstrates the ways in which efforts to alleviate the most destructive aspects of racism ultimately reproduced them in the context of the industrialized city.
Grant’s book provides close readings of Jean Toomer (Cane and Natalie Mann) and Zora Neale Hurston (Moses, Man of the Mountain, Seraph of the Suwanee, and Their Eyes Were Watching God), for whom the American South was a crucial locus of the African American experience. Toomer and Hurston were virtually alone among the Harlem Renaissance writers of prose who returned to the South for their literary materials. That return, however, allowed their rediscovery of key black masculine values and charted the northern route of those values in the twentieth century to their compromise and destruction.
Grant then moves on to three more recent writers—John Edgar Wideman, Gloria Naylor, and Toni Morrison—who expanded upon and transformed the themes of Toomer and Hurston. Like Toomer and Hurston, these later authors recognized the need for the political union of black men and women in the effort to realize the goals of equity and justice.
Masculinist Impulses discusses nineteenth- and twentieth-century black masculinity as both a feature and a casualty of modernism. Scholars and students of African American literature will find Grant’s nuanced and creative readings of these key literary texts invaluable.
In Masculinity Besieged? Xueping Zhong looks at Chinese literature and films produced during the 1980s to examine male subjectivities in contemporary China. Reading through a feminist psychoanalytic lens, Zhong argues that understanding the nature of male subjectivities as portrayed in literature and film is crucial to understanding China’s ongoing quest for modernity. Before the 1990s onslaught of popular culture decentered the role of intellectuals within the nation, they had come to embody Chinese masculinity during the previous decade. The focus on masculinity in literature had become unprecedented in scale and the desire for “real men” began to permeate Chinese popular culture, making icons out of Rambo and Takakura Ken. Stories by Zhang Xianliang and Liu Heng portraying male anxiety about masculine sexuality are employed by Zhong to show how “marginal” males negotiate their sexual identities in relation to both women and the state. Looking at writers popular among not only the well-educated but also the working and middle classes, she discusses works by Han Shaogong, Yu Hua, and Wang Shuo and examines instances of self-loathing male voices, particularly as they are articulated in Mo Yan’s well-known work Red Sorghum. In her last chapter Zhong examines “roots literature,” which speaks of the desire to create strong men as a part of the effort to create a geopolitically strong Chinese nation. In an afterword, Zhong situates her study in the context of the 1990s. This book will be welcomed by scholars of Chinese cultural studies, as well as in literary and gender studies.
The Measure of Manliness is among the first books to focus on representations of disability in Victorian literature, showing that far from being marginalized or pathologized, disability was central to the narrative form of the mid-century novel. Mid-Victorian novels evidenced a proliferation of male characters with disabilities, a phenomenon that author Karen Bourrier sees as a response to the rise of a new Victorian culture of industry and vitality, and its corollary emphasis on a hardy, active manhood. The figure of the voluble, weak man was a necessary narrative complement to the silent, strong man. The disabled male embodied traditionally feminine virtues, softening the taciturn strong man, and eliciting emotional depths from his seemingly coarse muscular frame. Yet, the weak man was able to follow the strong man where female characters could not, to all-male arenas such as the warehouse and the public school.
The analysis yokes together historical and narrative concerns, showing how developments in nineteenth-century masculinity led to a formal innovation in literature: the focalization or narration of the novel through the perspective of a weak or disabled man. The Measure of Manliness charts new territory in showing how feeling and loquacious bodies were increasingly seen as sick bodies throughout the nineteenth century. The book will appeal to those interested in disability studies, gender and masculinity studies, the theorization of sympathy and affect, the recovery of women’s writing and popular fiction, the history of medicine and technology, and queer theory.
In Men without Women Eliot Borenstein examines the literature of the early Soviet period to shed new light on the iconic Russian concept of comradeship. By analyzing a variety of Russian writers who span the ideological spectrum, Borenstein provides an illuminating reading of the construction of masculinity in Soviet culture. In each example he identifies the replacement of blood ties with ideology and the creation of a social order in which the family has been supplanted by the collective. In such works as Red Cavalry by Isaac Babel, Envy by Yuri Olesha, and Chevengur by Andrei Platonov women are either absent or transformed into bodiless abstractions. Their absence, claims Borenstein, reflects the masculine values that are hallmarks of the post-revolutionary era: production rather than reproduction, participation in history rather than domestic ahistoricity, heavy industry, construction, and struggle. He identifies in this literature groups of “men without women” replacing the family, even while the metaphor of family is used as an organizing feature of their recurring revolutionary missions. With the passage of time, these characters’ relationships—just as those in the Soviet culture of the time—begin to resemble the family structure that was originally rejected and destroyed, with one important exception: the new “families” had no place for women. According to Borenstein, this masculinist myth found its most congenial audience during the early period of communism, but its hostility to women and family ties could not survive into the Stalinist era when women, home, and family were no longer seen as antithetical to socialism. Drawing on the theory and writings of Levi-Strauss, Girard, Sedgwick, and others, Men Without Women will be of interest to students and scholars of Slavic literature and history as well as specialists in literary theory and gender studies.
Scott Derrick has written an original book that contributes significantly to current revisions of the nineteenth-century American literary tradition's representation of gender and sexuality. His interpretation of feminist, lesbian-feminist, and gay issues in nineteenth-century American literature as complementary enlarges our historical understanding and helps build the coalition politics needed in these areas."-John Carlos Rowe, University of California, Irvine
Recent gender-based scholarship on nineteenth-century American literature has established male authors' crucial awareness of the competition from popular women writers. And critical work in gay studies and queer theory has stressed the importance in canonical American literature of homoerotic relations between men, even before "homosexuality" became codified at the end of the century. Scott Derrick draws on these insights to explore the ways in which male authors struggle to refigure literature-historically devalued as feminine-as a masculine and heterosexual enterprise. Derrick focuses on scenes of compositional crisis that reveal how male identity itself is at risk in the perils and possibilities of being a male author in a feminized literary marketplace.
He suggests that traditionally valued texts by Hawthorne, Poe, James, Sinclair, and Crane have at their core combustible four-sided conflicts between feminine identifications and masculine distancings, homoerotic longings and homophobic dreads, conflicts which are largely determined by domestic ideals of male and female roles within the nineteenth-century family. The negotiation of such conflicts is controlled by the nature of fiction writing, which both frees the imagination to explore forbidden fantasies and harnesses the imagination to public understandings of the proper form and content of fiction. Thus Monumental Anxieties also contributes to recent debates about the social shaping of contemporary homosexuality and to the history of American masculinity.
This study aims to supply the first contextually precise account of the male gender anxieties and ambivalences haunting the culture of Irish nationalism in the period between the Act of Union and the founding of the Irish Free State. To this end, Joseph Valente focuses upon the Victorian ethos of manliness or manhood, the specific moral and political logic of which proved crucial to both the translation of British rule into British hegemony and the expression of Irish rebellion as Irish psychomachia. The influential operation of this ideological construct is traced through a wide variety of contexts, including the career of Ireland's dominant Parliamentary leader, Charles Stewart Parnell; the institutions of Irish Revivalism--cultural, educational, journalistic, and literary; the writings of both canonical authors (Yeats, Synge, Gregory, and Joyce) and subcanonical authors (James Stephens, Patrick Pearse, Lennox Robinson); and major political movements of the time, including suffragism, Sinn Fein, Na Fianna E Éireann, and the Volunteers.
The construct of manliness remains very much alive today, underpinning the neo-imperialist marriage of ruthless aggression and the sanctities of duty, honor, and sacrifice. Mapping its earlier colonial and postcolonial formations can help us to understand its continuing geopolitical appeal and danger.
In Prisons, Race, and Masculinity, Peter Caster demonstrates the centrality of imprisonment in American culture, illustrating how incarceration, an institution inseparable from race, has shaped and continues to shape U.S. history and literature in the starkest expression of what W. E. B. DuBois famously termed “the problem of the color line.”
A prison official in 1888 declared that it was the freeing of slaves that actually created prisons: “we had to establish means for their control. Hence came the penitentiary.” Such rampant racism co ntributed to the criminalization of black masculinity in the cultural imagination, shaping not only the identity of prisoners (collectively and individually) but also America’s national character. Caster analyzes the representations of imprisonment in books, films, and performances, alternating between history and fiction to describe how racism influenced imprisonment during the decline of lynching in the 1930s, the political radicalism in the late 1960s, and the unprecedented prison expansion through the 1980s and 1990s. Offering new interpretations of familiar works by William Faulkner, Eldridge Cleaver, and Norman Mailer, Caster also engages recent films such as American History X, The Hurricane, and The Farm: Life Inside Angola Prison alongside prison history chronicled in the transcripts of the American Correctional Association. This book offers a compelling account of how imprisonment has functioned as racial containment, a matter critical to U.S. history and literary study.
What is patriarchal poetry? How can it be both attractive and tempting and yet be so hegemonic that it is invisible? How does it combine various mixes of masculinity, femininity, effeminacy, and eroticism? At once passionate and dispassionate, Rachel Blau DuPlessis meticulously outlines key moments of choice and debate about masculinity among writers as disparate as Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, Louis Zukofsky, Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, and Allen Ginsberg, choices that construct consequential models for institutions of poetic practice.
As DuPlessis writes, “There are no genderless subjects in any relationship structuring literary culture: not in production, dissemination, or reception; not in objects, discourses, or practices; not in reading experiences or in interpretations.” And, as she reveals in careful and enthralling detail, for the poets at the center of this book, questions of masculinity loomed large and were continuously articulated in their self-creation as writers, in literary bonding, and in its deployment.
These gender-laden choices, debates, and contradictions all have a striking influence today. In this empathic yet critical historical polemic, DuPlessis reveals the outcomes of these many investments in the radical reconstruction of masculinity, in their strains, incompleteness, tensions—and failures. At the heart of modernist maleness and poetic practices are contradictions and urgencies, gender ideas both progressive and defensive.In a striking book on male behavior in poetic dyads, the third book in a feminist critical trilogy, DuPlessis tracks the poetic debates and arguments about gender that continuously affirm patriarchal poetry.
Portraits of self-made men are rife in Western culture, as James V. Catano observes. Positive and negative, admittedly fictional and ostensibly factual, these portraits endure because the general rhetorical practice embodied in the myth of the self-made man enacts both the need and the very means for making oneself masculine: verbal power and prowess. The myth of the self-made man, in short, is part of ongoing rhetorical practices that constitute society, culture, and subjects.
To explain those practices and their effectiveness, Catano argues that the basic narrative achieves much of its effectiveness by engaging and enacting the traditional psychological dynamics of the family romance: preoedipal separation, oedipal conflict, and “ proper” postoedipal self-definition and socialization.
To focus on the combined social, psychological, and rhetorical dynamics that constitute the ongoing activity he calls masculine self-making, Catano emphasizes a particular strand: masculinity and steelmaking. Pursuing that strand, he argues that these representations of masculine self-making are rhetorical enactments of cultural needs and desires, and that they are ongoing and formative arguments about what society and its individuals either are or should be.
In The Ruling Passion, Christopher Lane examines the relationship between masculinity, homosexual desire, and empire in British colonialist and imperialist fictions at the turn of the twentieth century. Questioning the popular assumption that Britain’s empire functioned with symbolic efficiency on sublimated desire, this book presents a counterhistory of the empire’s many layers of conflict and ambivalence. Through attentive readings of sexual and political allegory in the work of Kipling, Forster, James, Beerbohm, Firbank, and others—and deft use of psychoanalytic theory—The Ruling Passion interprets turbulent scenes of masculine identification and pleasure, power and mastery, intimacy and antagonism. By foregrounding the shattering effects of male homosexuality and interracial desire, and by insisting on the centrality of unconscious fantasy and the death drive, The Ruling Passion examines the startling recurrence of colonial failure in narratives of symbolic doubt and ontological crisis. Lane argues compellingly that Britain can progress culturally and politically only when it has relinquished its residual fantasies of global mastery.
Winner of the Elizabeth Agee Prize in American Literature
An innovative exploration of postwar representations of effeminate men and boys
Sissy!The Effeminate Paradox in Postwar US Literature and Culture expands on recent cultural criticism that focuses on the ways men and boys deemed to be feminine have been—and continue to be—condemned for their personalities and behavior. Critic Harry Thomas Jr. does not dismiss this approach, but rather identifies it as merely one side of a coin. On the other side, he asserts, the opposite exists: an American artistic tradition that celebrates and affirms effeminate masculinity.
The author argues that effeminate men and boys are generally portrayed using the grotesque, an artistic mode concerned with the depictions of hybrid bodies. Thomas argues that the often grotesque imagery used to depict effeminate men evokes a complicated array of emotions, a mix of revulsion and fascination that cannot be completely separated from one another.
Thomas looks to the sissies in the 1940s novels of Truman Capote and Carson McCullers; the truth-telling flaming princesses of James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room; the superstardom of pop culture icon Liberace; the prophetic queens of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America; and many others to demonstrate how effeminate men have often been adored because they are seen as the promise of a different world, one free from the bounds of heteronormativity.
Sissy! offers an unprecedented and counterintuitive overview of cultural and artistic attitudes toward male effeminacy in post–World War II America and provides a unique and contemporary reinterpretation of the “sissy” figure in modern art and literature.
Recognizing that masculine literary tradition can include marginalized male writers as well as canonized female writers and that traditions themselves change over time, the essays in this insightful and coherent collection also explore the investment of the writers, as well as ninetieth- and twentieth-century readers, in canon creation. As it reconstructs conversations between these earlier authors and initiates new dialogues for today’s readers, Soft Canons offers provocative reconceptualizations of American literary and cultural history.
Performance was one of the five canonical branches of oratory in the classical period, but it presents special problems that distinguish it from concerns such as composition and memory. The ancient performer was supposed to be a "good man" and his performance a manifestation of an authentic and authoritative manliness. But how can the orator be distinguished from a mere actor? And what is the proper role for the body, given that it is a potential object of desire?
Erik Gunderson explores these and other questions in ancient rhetorical theory using a variety of theoretical approaches, drawing in particular on the works of Judith Butler, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Lacan. His study examines the status of rhetorical theory qua theory, the production of a specific version of body in the course of its theoretical description, oratory as a form of self-mastery, the actor as the orator's despised double, the dangers of homoerotic pleasure, and Cicero's De Oratore, as what good theory and practice ought to look like.
Erik Gunderson is Assistant Professor of Greek and Latin, Ohio State University.
The Universal Jew analyzes literary images of the Jewish nation and the Jewish national subject at Zionism’s formative moment. In a series of original readings of late nineteenth-century texts—from George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda to Theodor Herzl’s Altneuland to the bildungsromane of Russian Hebrew and Yiddish writers—Mikhal Dekel demonstrates the aesthetic and political function of literary works in the making of early Zionist consciousness. More than half a century before the foundation of the State of Israel and prior to the establishment of the Zionist political movement, Zionism emerges as an imaginary concept in literary texts that create, facilitate, and naturalize the transition from Jewish-minority to Jewish-majority culture. The transition occurs, Dekel argues, mainly through the invention of male literary characters and narrators who come to represent "exemplary" persons or "man in general" for the emergent, still unformed national community.
Such prototypical characters transform the symbol of the Jew from a racially or religiously defined minority subject to a "post-Jewish," particularuniversal, and fundamentally liberal majority subject. The Universal Jew situates the "Zionist moment" horizontally, within the various intellectual currents that make up the turn of the twentieth century: the discourse on modernity, the crisis in liberalism, Nietzsche’s critique of the Enlightenment, psychoanalysis, early feminism, and fin de siècle interrogation of sexual identities. The book examines the symbolic roles that Jews are assigned within these discourses and traces the ways in which Jewish literary citizens are shaped, both out of and in response to them. Beginning with an analysis of George Eliot’s construction of the character Deronda and its reception in Zionist circles, the Universal Jew ends with the self-fashioning of male citizens in fin de siècle and post-statehood Hebrew works, through the aesthetics oftragedy. Throughout her readings, Dekel analyzes the political meaning of these nascent images of citizens, uncovering in particular the gendered arrangements out of which they are born.
Mary O’ Connell examines the role of socially constructed masculinity in John Updike’ s Rabbit tetralogy— Rabbit Run, Rabbit Redux, Rabbit Is Rich, and Rabbit at Rest— which comprises the longest and most comprehensive representation of masculinity in American literature and places Updike firmly with the precursors of the contemporary movement among men to reevaluate their cultural inheritance.
A disturbing element exists, O’ Connell determines, in both the texts of the Rabbit novels and in the critical community that examines them. In the novels, O’ Connell finds substantial evidence to demonstrate patterns of psychological and physical abuse toward women, citing as the culminating example the mounting toll of literally or metaphorically dead women in the texts. Critics who characterize Updike as a nonviolent writer who strangely overlooks Rabbit’ s repressive and violent behaviors avoid a discomforting but crucial aspect of Updike’ s portrait.
Because the critical verdict of nonviolence in Updike’ s novels contrasts sharply with the string of female corpses, O’ Connell deems that something within the text or culture— or both— is seriously amiss.
Although she examines negative aspects of Rabbit’ s behavior, O’ Connell avoids the oversimplification of labeling Updike a misogynist. Instead, she looks closely at the forces shaping Rabbit’ s gender identity as well as at the ways he experiences masculinity and the ways his gender identity affects his personal and spiritual development, his relationships, and, ultimately, his society. She shows how Updike challenges stereotypical masculinity, revealing its limitations and proscriptions as the source of much unhappiness for both men and women. Further, she substantiates the relation between gender, form, structure, perspective, and language use in the novels, alerting the reader to the ambivalence arising from the male author’ s examination of masculinity.
O’ Connell maintains that Updike does more than write Rabbit as a stereotypical male; he instead explores in depth his character’ s habitually flawed ways of seeing and responding to the world. As she discusses these issues, O’ Connell uses the term patriarchy in its broadest sense to refer to the practice of centralizing the male and marginalizing the female in all areas of human life. Patriarchal ideology— the assumptions, values, ideas, and patterns of thought that perpetuate the arrangement— is written as hidden text, permeating every aspect of culture, particularly language, from which it spreads to other signifying systems.
Contrary to conventional critical wisdom, Updike is not a straightforward writer; the Rabbit novels create meaning by challenging, undermining, and qualifying their own explicit content. Updike claims that his novels are "moral debates with the reader," and according to O’ Connell, the resisting reader, active and skeptical, is the one most likely to discover what Rabbit conceals and to register the nuances of layered discourse.
Amputation need not always signify castration; indeed, in Jack London’s fiction, losing a limb becomes part of a process through which queerly gendered men become properly masculinized. In her astute book, Vulnerable Constitutions, Cynthia Barounis explores the way American writers have fashioned alternative—even resistant—epistemologies of queerness, disability, and masculinity. She seeks to understand the way perverse sexuality, physical damage, and bodily contamination have stimulated—rather than created a crisis for—masculine characters in twentieth- and early twenty-first-century literature.
Barounis introduces the concept of “anti-prophylactic citizenship”—a mode of political belonging characterized by vulnerability, receptivity, and risk—to examine counternarratives of American masculinity. Investigating the work of authors including London, William Faulkner, James Baldwin, and Eli Clare, she presents an evolving narrative of medicalized sexuality and anti-prophylactic masculinity. Her literary readings interweave queer theory, disability studies, and the history of medicine to demonstrate how evolving scientific conversations around deviant genders and sexualities gave rise to a new model of national belonging—ultimately rewriting the story of American masculinity as a story of queer-crip rebellion.
Ranging from the novels of James Fenimore Cooper to Louis L'Amour, and from classic films like Stagecoach to spaghetti Westerns like A Fistful of Dollars, Mitchell shows how Westerns helped assuage a series of crises in American culture. This landmark study shows that the Western owes its perennial appeal not to unchanging conventions but to the deftness with which it responds to the obsessions and fears of its audience. And no obsession, Lee Mitchell argues, has figured more prominently in the Western than what it means to be a man.
"Elegantly written. . . . provocative . . . characterized by [Mitchell's] own tendency to shoot from the hip."—J. Hoberman, London Review of Books
"[Mitchell's] book would be worth reading just for the way he relates Benjamin Spock's Baby and Child to the postwar Western."—The Observer
"Integrating a careful handling of historical context with a keen eye for textual nuances, Mitchell reconstructs the Western's aesthetic tradition of the 19th century."—Aaron M. Wehner, San Francisco Review
White Men Aren't
Thomas DiPiero Duke University Press, 2002 Library of Congress HQ1090.D567 2002 | Dewey Decimal 305.31
Psychoanalytic theory has traditionally taken sexual difference to be the fundamental organizing principle of human subjectivity. White Men Aren’t contests that assumption, arguing that other forms of difference—particularly race—are equally important to the formation of identity. Thomas DiPiero shows how whiteness and masculinity respond to various, complex cultural phenomena through a process akin to hysteria and how differences traditionally termed “racial” organize psychic, social, and political life as thoroughly as sexual difference does. White masculinity is fraught with anxiety, according to DiPiero, because it hinges on the unstable construction of white men’s cultural hegemony. White men must always struggle against the loss of position and the fear of insufficiency—against the specter of what they are not.
Drawing on the writings of Freud, Lacan, Butler, Foucault, and Kaja Silverman, as well as on biology, anthropology, and legal sources, Thomas DiPiero contends that psychoanalytic theory has not only failed to account for the role of race in structuring identity, it has in many ways deliberately ignored it. Reading a wide variety of texts—from classical works such as Oedipus Rex and The Iliad to contemporary films including Boyz 'n' the Hood and Grand Canyon—DiPiero reveals how the anxiety of white masculine identity pervades a surprising range of Western thought, including such ostensibly race-neutral phenomena as Englightenment forms of reason.
Analyzing literary texts and films, White Rebels in Black shows how German authors have since the 1950s appropriated black popular culture, particularly music, to distance themselves from the legacy of Nazi Germany, authoritarianism, and racism, and how such appropriation changes over time. Priscilla Layne offers a critique of how blackness came to symbolize a positive escape from the hegemonic masculinity of postwar Germany, and how black identities have been represented as separate from, and in opposition to, German identity, foreclosing the possibility of being both black and German. Citing four autobiographies published by black German authors Hans Jürgen Massaquo, Theodor Michael, Günter Kaufmann, and Charly Graf, Layne considers how black German men have related to hegemonic masculinity since Nazi Germany, and concludes with a discussion on the work of black German poet, Philipp Khabo Köpsell.
In The Woman in the Window: Commerce, Consensual Fantasy, and the Quest for Masculine Virtue in the Russian Novel, Russell Scott Valentino offers pioneering new insights into the historical construction of virtue and its relation to the rapidly shifting economic context in modern Russia. This study illustrates how the traditional virtue ethic, grounded in property-based conceptions of masculine heroism, was eventually displaced by a new commercial ethic that rested upon consensual fantasy. The new economic world destabilized traditional Russian notions of virtue and posed a central question that Russian authors have struggled to answer since the early nineteenth century: How could a self-interested commercial man be incorporated into the Russian context as a socially valuable masculine character?
With chapters on Gogol, Tolstoy, and Dostoevsky as well as Pasternak and Nabokov, The Woman in the Window argues that Russian authors worked through this question via their depictions of “mixed-up men.” Such characters, according to Valentino, reveal that in a world where social reality and personal identity depend on consensual fantasies, the old masculine figure loses its grounding and can easily drift away. Valentino charts a range of masculine character types thrown off stride by the new commercially inflected world: those who embrace blind confidence, those who are split with doubt or guilt, and those who look for an ideal of steadfastness and purity to keep afloat—a woman in a window.