National Manhood explores the relationship between gender, race, and nation by tracing developing ideals of citizenship in the United States from the Revolutionary War through the 1850s. Through an extensive reading of literary and historical documents, Dana D. Nelson analyzes the social and political articulation of a civic identity centered around the white male and points to a cultural moment in which the theoretical consolidation of white manhood worked to ground, and perhaps even found, the nation. Using political, scientific, medical, personal, and literary texts ranging from the Federalist papers to the ethnographic work associated with the Lewis and Clark expedition to the medical lectures of early gynecologists, Nelson explores the referential power of white manhood, how and under what conditions it came to stand for the nation, and how it came to be a fraternal articulation of a representative and civic identity in the United States. In examining early exemplary models of national manhood and by tracing its cultural generalization, National Manhood reveals not only how an impossible ideal has helped to form racist and sexist practices, but also how this ideal has simultaneously privileged and oppressed white men, who, in measuring themselves against it, are able to disavow their part in those oppressions. Historically broad and theoretically informed, National Manhood reaches across disciplines to engage those studying early national culture, race and gender issues, and American history, literature, and culture.
Many indigenous Hawaiian men have felt profoundly disempowered by the legacies of colonization and by the tourist industry, which, in addition to occupying a great deal of land, promotes a feminized image of Native Hawaiians (evident in the ubiquitous figure of the dancing hula girl). In the 1990s a group of Native men on the island of Maui responded by refashioning and reasserting their masculine identities in a group called the Hale Mua (the “Men’s House”). As a member and an ethnographer, Ty P. Kāwika Tengan analyzes how the group’s mostly middle-aged, middle-class, and mixed-race members assert a warrior masculinity through practices including martial arts, woodcarving, and cultural ceremonies. Some of their practices are heavily influenced by or borrowed from other indigenous Polynesian traditions, including those of the Māori. The men of the Hale Mua enact their refashioned identities as they participate in temple rites, protest marches, public lectures, and cultural fairs.
The sharing of personal stories is an integral part of Hale Mua fellowship, and Tengan’s account is filled with members’ first-person narratives. At the same time, Tengan explains how Hale Mua rituals and practices connect to broader projects of cultural revitalization and Hawaiian nationalism. He brings to light the tensions that mark the group’s efforts to reclaim indigenous masculinity as they arise in debates over nineteenth-century historical source materials and during political and cultural gatherings held in spaces designated as tourist sites. He explores class status anxieties expressed through the sharing of individual life stories, critiques of the Hale Mua registered by Hawaiian women, and challenges the group received in dialogues with other indigenous Polynesians. Native Men Remade is the fascinating story of how gender, culture, class, and personality intersect as a group of indigenous Hawaiian men work to overcome the dislocations of colonial history.
Robert B. Parker's detective Spenser. John Rambo, created by David Morrell and played on the silver screen by Sylvester Stallone. Bruce Springsteen. All three, Douglas Robinson claims, are central figures in a new form of popular men’s art: art that explores what it means to be a man in a feminist age. Robinson develops a three-stage transformation myth out of Joseph Campbell’s studies of hero mythology: the road of trials, on which repressive “normality” is tested and found lacking (Spenser); a symbolic death in which defensive rational ego-structures are surrendered (the Rambo of First Blood); and regeneration and return, the gradual rebirth of masculinity in a redemptive transformation (Springsteen).