“In analyses that move deftly across economic, political, and affective registers, Hamilton Carroll draws out the dynamics of early-twenty-first-century backlash that have produced the popularity of texts as different as Brokeback Mountain and American Chopper, and draws our attention to the nuances to be found in unexpected places such as comic-book responses to 9/11. Affirmative Reaction can be read as a set of smart, related essays on a common theme, but it is also a tight, cohesive argument about recent developments in white U.S. masculinity. It will be welcomed by specialists in cultural studies, film studies, and gender studies, and it intervenes in the research conversation about the constitution of whiteness that continues in and across several fields and disciplines.”—Glenn Hendler, Director of the American Studies Program, Fordham University
Affirmative Reaction: New Formations of White Masculinityby Hamilton Carroll
Affirmative Reaction explores the cultural politics of heteronormative white masculine privilege in the United States. Through close readings of texts ranging from the popular television drama 24 to the Marvel Comics miniseries The Call of Duty, and from the reality show American Chopper to the movie Million Dollar Baby, Hamilton Carroll argues that the true privilege of white masculinity—and its defining strategy—is not to be unmarked, universal, or invisible, but to be mobile and mutable. He describes how, in response to the perceived erosions of privilege produced by post–civil rights era identity politics, white masculinity has come to rely on the very discourses of difference that unsettled its claims on the universal; it has redefined itself as a marginalized identity.
Throughout Affirmative Reaction, Carroll examines the kinds of difference white masculinity claims for itself as it attempts to hold onto or maintain majority privilege. Whether these are traditional sites of minority difference—such as Irishness, white trash, or domestic melodrama—or reworked sites of masculinist investment—including laboring bodies, public-sphere politics, and vigilantism—the outcome is the same: the foregrounding of white masculinity over and against women, people of color, and the non-heteronormative. By revealing the strategies through which white masculinity is produced as a formal difference, Carroll sheds new light on the ways that privilege is accrued and maintained.
Meet the Author
Hamilton Carroll is a Lecturer in American Literature and Culture at the University of Leeds.
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