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Male Sensibility in America, 1890–1920
Are men truly predisposed to violence and aggression? Is it the biological fate of males to struggle for domination over women and vie against one another endlessly? These and related queries have long vexed philosophers, social scientists, and other students of human behavior. In Brutes in Suits, historian John Pettegrew examines theoretical writings and cultural traditions in the United States to find that, Darwinian arguments to the contrary, masculine aggression can be interpreted as a modern strategy for taking power. Drawing ideas from varied and at times seemingly contradictory sources, Pettegrew argues that traditionally held beliefs about masculinity developed largely through language and cultural habit—and that these same tools can be employed to break through the myth that brutishness is an inherently male trait. A major re-synthesis of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century manhood, Brutes in Suits develops ambitious lines of research into the social science of sexual difference and professional history’s celebration of rugged individualism; the hunting-and-killing genre of popular men’s literature; that master text of hypermasculinity: college football; military culture, war making, and finding pleasure in killing; and patriarchy, sexual jealousy, and the law. This timely assessment of the evolution of masculine culture will be welcomed and debated by social and intellectual historians for years to come.
Two Novels: Development And Two Selves
Bryher (born Annie Winifred Ellerman) is perhaps best known today as the lifelong partner of the poet H.D. She was, however, a central figure in modernist and avant-garde cultural experimentation in the early twentieth century; a prolific producer of poetry, novels, autobiography, and criticism; and an intimate and patron of such modernist artists as Gertrude Stein, Marianne Moore, and Dorothy Richardson. Bryher’s own path-breaking writing has remained largely neglected, long out of print, and inaccessible to those interested in her oeuvre. Now, for the first time since their original publication in the early 1920s, two of Bryher's pioneering works of fictionalized autobiography, titled Development and Two Selves, are reprinted in one volume for a new audience of readers, scholars, and critics.
Blending poetry, prose, and autobiographical details, Development and Two Selves together constitute a compelling bildungsroman that is among the first ever to follow a young woman's process of coming out. Through the fictionalized character Nancy, the novels trace Bryher’s life through her childhood and young adulthood, giving the reader an account of the development of a unique lesbian, feminist, and modernist consciousness. Development and Two Selves recover significant work by one of the first experimenters of the modernist movement and are a welcome reintroduction of the enigmatic Bryher.
Classic Hollywood Comedians and Queered Masculinity
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.
Performance, Race, and Sexuality in the Harlem Renaissance
James F. Wilson uncovers fascinating new material on the Harlem Renaissance, shedding light on the oft-forgotten gay and lesbian contributions to the era's creativity and Civil Rights. Extremely well researched, compellingly written, and highly informative. ---David Krasner, author of A Beautiful Pageant: African American Theatre, Drama, and Performance in the Harlem Renaissance, 1910-1927 Bulldaggers, Pansies, and Chocolate Babies shines the spotlight on historically neglected plays and performances that challenged early twentieth-century notions of the stratification of race, gender, class, and sexual orientation. On Broadway stages, in Harlem nightclubs and dance halls, and within private homes sponsoring rent parties, African American performers of the 1920s and early 1930s teased the limits of white middle-class morality. Blues-singing lesbians, popularly known as "bulldaggers," performed bawdy songs; cross-dressing men vied for the top prizes in lavish drag balls; and black and white women flaunted their sexuality in scandalous melodramas and musical revues. Race leaders, preachers, and theater critics spoke out against these performances that threatened to undermine social and political progress, but to no avail: mainstream audiences could not get enough of the riotous entertainment. Many of the plays and performances explored here, central to the cultural debates of their time, had been previously overlooked by theater historians. Among the performances discussed are David Belasco's controversial production of Edward Sheldon and Charles MacArthur's Lulu Belle (1926), with its raucous, libidinous view of Harlem. The title character, as performed by a white woman in blackface, became a symbol of defiance for the gay subculture and was simultaneously held up as a symbol of supposedly immoral black women. African Americans Florence Mills and Ethel Waters, two of the most famous performers of the 1920s, countered the Lulu Belle stereotype in written statements and through parody, thereby reflecting the powerful effect this fictional character had on the popular imagination. Bulldaggers, Pansies, and Chocolate Babies is based on historical archival research including readings of eyewitness accounts, newspaper reports, songs, and playscripts. Employing a cultural studies framework that incorporates queer and critical race theory, it argues against the widely held belief that the stereotypical forms of black, lesbian, and gay show business of the 1920s prohibited the emergence of distinctive new voices. Specialists in American studies, performance studies, African American studies, and gay and lesbian studies will find the book appealing, as will general readers interested in the vivid personalities and performances of the singers and actors introduced in the book. James F. Wilson is Professor of English and Theatre at LaGuardia Community College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
Ladies' Memorial Associations and the Lost Cause
Immediately after the Civil War, white women across the South organized to retrieve and rebury the remains of Confederate soldiers scattered throughout the region. In Virginia alone, these Ladies' Memorial Associations (LMAs) relocated and reinterred the remains of more than 72,000 soldiers, nearly 28 percent of the 260,000 Confederate soldiers who perished in the war. Challenging the notion that southern white women were peripheral to the Lost Cause movement until the 1890s, Caroline Janney restores these women's place in the historical narrative by exploring their role as the creators and purveyors of Confederate tradition between 1865 and 1915.
Gender, Performance, and Ballroom Culture in Detroit
Butch Queens Up in Pumps examines Ballroom culture, in which inner-city LGBT individuals dress, dance, and vogue to compete for prizes and trophies. Participants are affiliated with a house, an alternative family structure typically named after haute couture designers and providing support to this diverse community. Marlon M. Bailey’s rich first-person performance ethnography of the Ballroom scene in Detroit examines Ballroom as a queer cultural formation that upsets dominant notions of gender, sexuality, kinship, and community.
Feminist Education against Sexism, Classism, and Racism
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.
From the Gold Rush to the Great Depression
In 1911 as progressivism moved toward its zenith, the state of California granted women the right to vote. However, women’s political involvement in California’s public life did not begin with suffrage, nor did it end there. Across the state, women had been deeply involved in politics long before suffrage, and—although their tactics and objectives changed—they remained deeply involved thereafter. California Women and Politics examines the wide array of women’s public activism from the 1850s to 1929—including the temperance movement, moral reform, conservation, trade unionism, settlement work, philanthropy, wartime volunteerism, and more—and reveals unexpected contours to women’s politics in California. The contributors consider not only white middle-class women’s organizing but also the politics of working-class women and women of color, emphasizing that there was not one monolithic “women’s agenda,” but rather a multiplicity of women’s voices demanding recognition for a variety of causes.
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.