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Women's Studies, Gender, and Sexuality > Gender Studies

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Buffoon Men

Classic Hollywood Comedians and Queered Masculinity

Scott Balcerzak

Film scholars and fans have used distinctive terms to describe the Classic Hollywood comedian: He is a "trickster," a "rebel," or a "buffoon." Yet the performer is almost always described as a "he." In Buffoon Men: Classic Hollywood Comedians and Queered Masculinity, Scott Balcerzak reads the performances of notable comedians such as W. C. Fields, Eddie Cantor, Jack Benny, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey, and Bud Abbott and Lou Costello through humor and queer theory to expose a problematic history of maleness in their personas. He argues that contrary to popular notions of Classic Hollywood history, these male comedians rearranged or, at times, rejected heteronormative protocols. Balcerzak begins by defining the particular buffoonish masculinity portrayed by early film comedians, a gender and genre construct influenced by the cultural anxieties of the 1930s and '40s. In chapter 1, he considers the onscreen pairing of W. C. Fields and Mae West to identify a queered sexuality and drag persona in Fields's performance, while in chapter 2 he examines the two major constructions of Fields's film persona-the confidence man and the husband-to show Fields to be a conflicted and subversive figure. In chapter 3, Balcerzak considers the assimilation and influence of Eddie Cantor as a Jewish celebrity, while he turns to the cross-media influence of Jack Benny's radio persona in chapter 4. In Chapters 5 and 6, he moves beyond the individual performer to examine the complex masculine brotherhood of comedy duos Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, and Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey. Buffoon Men shows that the complicated history of the male comedian during the early sound era has much to tell us about multimedia comedic stars today. Fans and scholars of film history, gender studies, and broadcast studies will appreciate Balcerzak's thorough exploration of the era's fascinating gender constructs.

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The Bully Society

School Shootings and the Crisis of Bullying in America’s Schools

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Califia Women

Feminist Education against Sexism, Classism, and Racism

By Clark A. Pomerleau

A dynamic exploration of the Califia Community, a long-running Los Angeles-based grassroots alternative education group formed in the mid-1970s, whose richly diverse membership offered a compelling array of responses to feminism’s key issues.

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Calling Cards

Theory and Practice in the Study of Race, Gender, and Culture

In recent decades, the concepts of race, gender, and culture have come to function as “calling cards,” the terms by which we announce ourselves as professionals and negotiate acceptance and/or rejection in the academic marketplace. In this volume, contributors from composition, literature, rhetoric, literacy, and cultural studies share their experiences and insights as researchers, scholars, and teachers who centralize these concepts in their work. Reflecting deliberately on their own research and classroom practices, the contributors share theoretical frameworks, processes, and methodologies; consider the quality of the knowledge and the understanding that their theoretical approaches generate; and address various challenges related to what it actually means to perform this type of work both professionally and personally, especially in light of the ways in which we are all raced, gendered, and acculturated.

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Cannibal Writes

Eating Others in Caribbean and Indian Ocean Women's Writing

Njeri Githire

Postcolonial and diaspora studies scholars and critics have paid increasing attention to the use of metaphors of food, eating, digestion, and various affiliated actions such as loss of appetite, indigestion, and regurgitation. As such stylistic devices proliferated in the works of non-Western women writers, scholars connected metaphors of eating and consumption to colonial and imperial domination. In Cannibal Writes , Njeri Githire concentrates on the gendered and sexualized dimensions of these visceral metaphors of consumption in works by women writers from Haiti, Jamaica, Mauritius, and elsewhere. Employing theoretical analysis and insightful readings of English- and French-language texts, she explores the prominence of alimentary-related tropes and their relationship to sexual consumption, writing, global geopolitics and economic dynamics, and migration. As she shows, the use of cannibalism in particular as a central motif opens up privileged modes for mediating historical and sociopolitical issues. Ambitiously comparative, Cannibal Writes ranges across the works of well-known and lesser known writers to tie together two geographic and cultural spaces that have much in common but are seldom studied in parallel.

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Capitalist Family Values

Gender, Work, and Corporate Culture at Boeing

Polly Reed Myers

Though best known for aircraft and aerospace technology, Boeing has invested significant time and money in the construction and promotion of its corporate culture. Boeing’s leaders, in keeping with the standard of traditional American social norms, began to promote a workplace culture of a white, heterosexual family model in the 1930s in an attempt to provide a sense of stability for their labor force during a series of enormous political, social, and economic disruptions. For both managers and workers, the construction of a masculine culture solved problems that technological innovation and profit could not. For managers it offered a way to govern employees and check the power of unions. For male employees, it offered a sense of stability that higher wages and the uncertainties of the airline market could not. For scholar Polly Reed Myers, Boeing’s corporate culture offers a case study for understanding how labor and the workplace have evolved over the course of the twentieth century and into the present day amid the rise of neoliberal capitalism, globalization, and women’s rights.
 
Capitalist Family Values places the stories of Boeing’s women at the center of the company’s history, illuminating the policy shifts and economic changes, global events and modern controversies that have defined policy and workplace culture at Boeing. Using archival documents that include company newspapers, interviews, and historic court cases, Capitalist Family Values illustrates the changing concepts of corporate culture and the rhetoric of a “workplace family” in connection with economic, political, and social changes, providing insight into the operations of one of America’s most powerful and influential firms.

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Carework and Class

Domestic Workers' Struggle for Equal Rights in Latin America

Merike Blofield

Labor laws in Latin America have traditionally discriminated against domestic workers, mandating longer legal work hours and lower benefits. While elite resistance to reform has been widespread, during the past twenty years a handful of countries have instituted equal rights. This book examines how domestic workers’ mobilization, strategic alliances, and political windows of opportunity can lead to improved rights even in a region as unequal as Latin America.

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Catheters, Slurs, and Pickup Lines

Professional Intimacy in Hospital Nursing

Lisa C. Ruchti

Every day, hospital nurses must negotiate intimate trust and intimate conflict in an effort to provide quality health care. However, interactions between nurses and patients—which often require issues of privacy—are sometimes made more uncomfortable with inappropriate behavior, as when a patient has a racist and/or sexist outburst. Not all nurses are prepared to handle such intimacy, but they can all learn how to "be caring."

In Catheters, Slurs, and Pickup Lines, Lisa Ruchti carefully examines this fragile relationship between intimacy and professional care, and provides a language for patients, nurses, and administrators to teach, conduct, and advocate for knowledgeable and skilled intimate care in a hospital setting. She also recommends best training practices and practical and effective policy changes to handle conflicts.

Ruchti shows that "caring" is not just a personality characteristic but is work that is structured by intersections of race, gender, and nationality.

 

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The Changing Face of Representation

The Gender of U.S. Senators and Constituent Communications

Kim L. Fridkin and Patrick J. Kenney

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Children of Afghanistan

The Path to Peace

Edited by Jennifer Heath and Ashraf Zahedi

A sweeping examination of Afghanistan’s most vulnerable individuals and the myriad of problems that confront them, Children of Afghanistan not only explores the host of crises that has led the United Nations to call the country “the worst place on earth to be born,” but also offers child-centered solutions to rebuilding the country.

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