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Dangerous Masculinities

Conrad, Hemingway, and Lawrence

Thomas Strychacz

Publication Year: 2008

In Dangerous Masculinities, Thomas Strychacz has as his goal nothing less than to turn scholarship on gender and modernism on its head. He focuses on the way some early twentieth-century writers portray masculinity as theatrical performance, and examines why scholars have generally overlooked that fact.

Strychacz argues that writers such as Conrad, Hemingway, and Lawrence--often viewed as misogynist--actually represented masculinity in their works in terms of theatrical and rhetorical performances. They are theatrical in the sense that male characters keep staging themselves in competitive displays; rhetorical in the sense that these characters, and the very narrative form of the works in which they appear, render masculinity a kind of persuasive argument readers can and should debate.

Perhaps most interesting is Strychacz's contention that scholarship has obscured the fact that often these writers were quite critical of masculinity. Writing with a clarity and scope that allows him to both invoke the Schwarzeneggarian "girly man" and borrow from the theories of Judith Butler and Bertolt Brecht, he fashions a critical method with which to explore the ways in which scholars gender texts by the very act of reading.

Published by: University Press of Florida


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Title Page, Copyright

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p. vii

I would like to thank the many people who spent much time and energy, as Marlow put it in Lord Jim, “looking at another man’s work”—my work. Amy Gorelick, senior acquisitions editor at the University Press of Florida, encouraged me to submit a proposal and then skillfully guided the burgeoning manuscript to...

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pp. 1-13

Big Brierly’s unfathomable suicide in the early chapters of Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim (1900) has at least one comic consequence: the replacement captain. Jones—Brierly’s first mate, and the man Brierly designated his successor to command the Ossa—tells Marlow that the eventual replacement was a “little...

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1. Masculinity Studies, Professionalism, and the Rhetoric of Gender

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pp. 14-47

On July 17, 2004, at exactly the moment I was pondering the introduction to this book, Arnold Schwarzenegger, governor of California, caused a minor political storm when, accusing his Democrat opponents of pandering to special interests during budget negotiations, he referred to them as ‘girlie men.’ I want...

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2. Making a Mess of Manhood in Hemingway’s “The Capital of the World”

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pp. 48-72

Desultory, peripatetic, “The Capital of the World” is less a story than a series of anecdotes. It sketches in a motley cast of characters—a lecherous and cowardly matador, an anarchist, two priests, two “houseworn” prostitutes, a group of waiters—loosely associated with the Pension Luarca in Madrid. On these...

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3. The Construction of Hemingway: Masculine Style and Style-less Masculinity

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pp. 73-103

In Chapter 2, I argued that Hemingway’s representation of masculinity in “The Capital of the World” is indebted to an aesthetic of performance that troubles familiar notions about his portrayal of gender roles by engaging audiences in various acts of participation and evaluation. Given that this reading persuasively...

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4. “Looking at Another Man’s Work”: Theaters of Masculinity in Conrad’s Lord Jim

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pp. 104-127

Scholars have found a gold mine of interpretative material in Chapter I of Lord Jim, employing it to set up classic investigations into Conrad’s narrative concerns and, more generally, into the strategies of modernist fiction. Jim’s penchant for “light holiday literature,” erupting in fantasies in which he “confronted...

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5. “Show[ing] Himself as a Man”: Constructions of Manhood in Conrad’s Imperial Theater

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pp. 128-158

Before Patusan, Jim generally fails the complex tests evoked by the phrase “looking at another man’s work.” Jim “skulked down below as though he had been a stowaway” on board Marlow’s ship, silent testimony to numerous failures of self-dramatization in the public arena. Patusan restores Jim’s ability...

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6. Leaving Our Sureties Behind: Lawrence’s Rhetorical Play with Gender Roles

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pp. 159-176

Introducing D. H. Lawrence’s essays “Matriarchy” and “Cocksure Women and Hen-sure Men” to readers of The Gender of Modernism, Bonnie Kime Scott argues that Lawrence, writing at the tail-end of his so-called leadership phase, advocates a “male position of power” within the context of natural gender roles...

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7. Doing a Double Take: Reading Gender Issues in Women in Love

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pp. 177-207

Amid Hermione’s ruthless efforts to furnish Birkin’s new digs at the old mill, and as their relationship nears its bitter end, the narrator informs us that “Birkin always let her have her way, for the moment.” We get the gist of this odd sentence. As the biffing at Breadalby suggests, severe penalties await those who...

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8. Conclusion: Lawrence, Positionality, and the Prospects for New Masculinity Studies

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pp. 208-221

Concepts of performance have been vital to this study. They underpin my readings of gestic narrative form in Hemingway, Conrad, and Lawrence; those readings in turn afford a way of understanding constructions of masculinity in gendered approaches to modernism as an exercise of professional power...


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pp. 223-237


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pp. 239-253


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pp. 255-261

E-ISBN-13: 9780813039992
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813031613
Print-ISBN-10: 0813031613

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2008

OCLC Number: 746746871
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Dangerous Masculinities

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Conrad, Joseph, -- 1857-1924 -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Hemingway, Ernest, -- 1899-1961 -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Lawrence, D. H. -- (David Herbert), -- 1885-1930 -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • English literature -- Male authors -- History and criticism.
  • American literature -- Male authors -- History and criticism.
  • Modernism (Literature).
  • Masculinity in literature.
  • Men in literature.
  • Gender identity in literature.
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