Making American Boys: Boyology and the Feral Tale

Making American Boys: Boyology and the Feral Tale

by Kenneth B. Kidd
     
 

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Will boys be boys? What are little boys made of? Kenneth B. Kidd responds to these familiar questions with a thorough review of boy culture in America since the late nineteenth century. From the "boy work" promoted by character-building organizations such as Scouting and 4-H to current therapeutic and pop psychological obsessions with children's self-esteem, Kidd

Overview

Will boys be boys? What are little boys made of? Kenneth B. Kidd responds to these familiar questions with a thorough review of boy culture in America since the late nineteenth century. From the "boy work" promoted by character-building organizations such as Scouting and 4-H to current therapeutic and pop psychological obsessions with children's self-esteem, Kidd presents the great variety of cultural influences on the changing notion of boyhood. Analyzing icons of boyhood and maleness from Huck Finn and The Jungle Book's Mowgli to Father Flanagan's Boys Town and even Michael Jackson, Kidd surveys films, psychoanalytic case studies, parenting manuals, historical accounts of the discoveries of "wolf-boys," and self-help books to provide a rigorous history of what it has meant to be an all-American boy.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Kidd offers fascinating evidence that 'feral tales' . . . seeped into the mind of childhood experts . . . [and] indelibly marked the way we think about boyhood." -Village Voice

"Kenneth Kidd's Making American Boys is a remarkable pioneer study of the sociocultural conditions that influenced the particular development of American boyhood from the late nineteenth century to the present. . . . This book is requisite reading for understanding how boys become 'real' American men." -Jack Zipes, University of Minnesota

Children's Literature
When picking up a book the title can be one of the first great gatekeepers of potential interest. Some books bear striking titles that draw you into them as if they had a magical power to do so. One need only think of works such as Treasure Island, War and Peace, or The Hound of the Baskervilles in order to conjure up a true page-turner. Sadly, the tile of this book is as obscure as much of its contents. Looking back at this book after reading it, this writer still has to stop and scratch his head before even attempting to explain what "Boyology" is and how "the feral tale" really works. In a nutshell the author of this study in social norms of maleness indicates that the study of this subject has a long history in America. This concept of Boyology relates to the ways in which prototypical maleness has been encouraged, nurtured, and shaped. Boyology has many of its roots in the feral image of boys as aggressive and warlike beings who have difficulty socializing. Unfortunately, while the author of this work is clearly a bright and well versed person, his ability to express his thoughts in understandable language is somewhat limited. Making American Boys is a deep study wrapped in verbosity and distracted sentences that do not strike true to the reader's heart. This book is really only appropriate for that small community of university professionals who often read and sneer at one another's work while secretly wishing their reading audience was larger. 2005, University of Minnesota Press, Ages adult.
—Greg M. Romaneck

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780816642960
Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press
Publication date:
06/28/2005
Edition description:
1
Pages:
268
Product dimensions:
5.88(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author

Kenneth B. Kidd is associate professor of English at the University of Florida and associate director of the Center for Children's Literature and Culture.

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