Boys Don't Cry?: Rethinking Narratives of Masculinity and Emotion in the U.S.

Overview

We take for granted the idea that white, middle-class, straight masculinity connotes total control of emotions, emotional inexpressivity, and emotional isolation. That men repress their feelings as they seek their fortunes in the competitive worlds of business and politics seems to be a given. This collection of essays by prominent literary and cultural critics rethinks such commonly held views by addressing the history and politics of emotion in prevailing narratives about masculinity. How did the story of the ...

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Boys Don't Cry?: Rethinking Narratives of Masculinity and Emotion in the U.S.

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Overview

We take for granted the idea that white, middle-class, straight masculinity connotes total control of emotions, emotional inexpressivity, and emotional isolation. That men repress their feelings as they seek their fortunes in the competitive worlds of business and politics seems to be a given. This collection of essays by prominent literary and cultural critics rethinks such commonly held views by addressing the history and politics of emotion in prevailing narratives about masculinity. How did the story of the emotionally stifled U.S. male come into being? What are its political stakes? Will the "release" of straight, white, middle-class masculine emotion remake existing forms of power or reinforce them? This collection forcefully challenges our most entrenched ideas about male emotion. Through readings of works by Thoreau, Lowell, and W. E. B. Du Bois, and of twentieth century authors such as Hemingway and Kerouac, this book questions the persistence of the emotionally alienated male in narratives of white middle-class masculinity and addresses the political and social implications of male emotional release.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Brandeis Review

This book questions the persistence of the emotionally alienated male in narratives of white, middle-class masculinity and addresses the political and social implications of male emotional expression.

Modernism/Modernity
This collection of eleven scholarly essays successfully combines a cultural history of male emotion with detailed readings of male-authored texts... Shamir and Travis's collection discovers male emotionality to be far more intricate than many facile equations of masculine subjectivity... are inclined to allow for.

— Berthold Schoene

Modernism/Modernity - Berthold Schoene

This collection of eleven scholarly essays successfully combines a cultural history of male emotion with detailed readings of male-authored texts... Shamir and Travis's collection discovers male emotionality to be far more intricate than many facile equations of masculine subjectivity... are inclined to allow for.

Booknews
Eleven academics from English, literature, and women and gender studies examine the emotional history of American masculinity. Collectively, the eleven essays explore the origins of the concept of the emotionally stifled U.S. male; how this concept has changed over time; reasons why it continues to dominate images of white, middle- class masculinity; what is at stake in the repeated announcement that men are emotionally stifled; and the cultural uses of representing male feelings in light of this concept. The authors consider masculinity and emotion in literary narratives, including works by Crevecoeur, Brockden Brown, Thoreau, Lowell, Du Bois, Cather, Hemingway, Kerouac, Irving, and in other kinds of narrative, including political theory, legal history, film melodramas, popular men's studies texts, academic discourse, and oral interviews. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231120357
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 4/3/2002
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Milette Shamir is lecturer in American literature at Tel Aviv University.

Jennifer Travis is assistant professor of English at St. John's University in New York.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

IntroductionWhat Feels an American? Evident Selves and Alienable Emotions in the New Man's World, by Evan CartonLoving with a Vengeance: Wieland, Familicide and the Crisis of Masculinity in the Early Nation, by Elizabeth Barnes"The Manliest Relations to Men": Thoreau on Privacy, Intimacy, and Writing, by Milette ShamirManly Tears: Men's Elegies for Children in Nineteenth-Century America, by Eric HaralsonHow to be a (Sentimental) Race Man: Mourning and Passing in W.E.B. Du Bois's The Souls of Black Folk, by Ryan SchneiderThe Law of the Heart: Emotional Injury and its Fictions, by Jennifer Travis"The Sort of Thing You Should Not Admit": Hemingway's Aesthetics of Emotional Restraint, by Thomas StrychaczRoad Work: Rereading Kerouac's Midcentury Melodrama of Beset Sonhood, by Stephen DavenportMen's Tears and the Roles of Melodrama, by Tom LutzMen's Liberation, Men's Wounds: Emotion, Sexuality, and the Reconstruction of Masculinity in the 1970s, by Sally RobinsonThe Politics of Feeling: Men, Masculinity, and Mourning on the Capital Mall, by Judith Newton

Columbia University Press

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