Dangerous Masculinities: Conrad, Hemingway, and Lawrence by Thomas Strychacz

By Thomas Strychacz

In Dangerous Masculinities, Thomas Strychacz has as his aim not anything lower than to show scholarship on gender and modernism on its head. He specializes in the way in which a few early twentieth-century writers painting masculinity as theatrical functionality, and examines why students have often neglected that fact.
Strychacz argues that writers similar to Conrad, Hemingway, and Lawrence--often considered as misogynist--actually represented masculinity of their works by way of theatrical and rhetorical performances. they're theatrical within the experience that male characters retain staging themselves in aggressive monitors; rhetorical within the feel that those characters, and the very narrative type of the works during which they seem, render masculinity a type of persuasive argument readers can and will debate.
Perhaps finest is Strychacz's rivalry that scholarship has obscured the truth that frequently those writers have been relatively severe of masculinity. Writing with a readability and scope that enables him to either invoke the Schwarzeneggarian "girly guy" and borrow from the theories of Judith Butler and Bertolt Brecht, he models a severe procedure with which to discover the ways that students gender texts by means of the very act of examining.

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Extra resources for Dangerous Masculinities: Conrad, Hemingway, and Lawrence

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In order to pursue my interest in theorizing Butler’s work in the context of masculinity studies (and to anticipate my later argument about modernism), I want now to interweave Butler’s radical analysis of gender-as-performance with a concept drawn from Bertolt Brecht’s repertoire of dramatic innovations: the social gest. Brecht’s neologism implies both gist and gesture. ”19 However, Brecht argued, “Not all gests are social gests”: “The attitude of chasing away a fly is not yet a social gest, though the attitude of chasing away a dog may be one, for instance if it comes to represent a badly dressed man’s continual battle against watchdogs.

Once more we face a conundrum. Given the way in which discourses of authentic manhood have been used to push some men toward the margins, it makes sense for Boone to be wary of the category of authenticity. Yet it would still seem possible for some men to claim a more authentic, or more “authentic,” or more “authentic” voice and status. Perhaps it is unfair to cavil: the essay in its irresolution deliberately defers questions such as the ones above. Boone sets out to be provocative and confessedly utopian, not prescriptive.

In this light, choosing irresolution can be validated on numerous political grounds. Since men under conditions of patriarchy are accorded a privilege denied women, it has always been too easy for men to resolve issues in their favor. Professionalized fields of inquiry are no exception, as witnessed by the extraordinary efforts of second-wave feminists to crack male-dominated hierarchies and institutions. So Boone’s efforts to think through an interpretive strategy framed within a gendered and asymmetrical distribution of power in academic institutions is both timely and important, forcing as it does the question: “how can you trust groups of men not to repeat the old order” (24)?

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