Masculinities Conference, Session 6, Manning the Nation

After the break (amazing brownie and peanut butter cookie), the final session of the day began for the Masculinities Conference.

The first speaker, Davinia Thornley, presented on “Out of the Blue: A Case of ‘National Genre Confusion’?” Pressures to enforce generic conventions on non-US film making that represent stereotypes about those nations. “Man alone” >> “Domestic life”  films. “Out of the Blue” stars Karl Urban. Two mass shootings in the history of New Zealand. Wandering camera perspective. “Man alone” films + Critical Suggestions by Art Cinema? Man Alone is social problem. Importance of community. Importance of authorial vision. Aramoana.

Ed Madden presented his paper, “Intimacy, Affect, and Masculinity in Ireland, 1998-2001.” Cultural specificity. Ireland went from poorest to richest nation. Liberalization. Secularization. Celtic tiger. Positivity of homoeroticism/homosocial > disrupt the social and the sexual. Ed showed us a short film titled “Chicken.”

Unease and discomfort. Forms of masculinity that allows for broader emotional responses. Edelman. Deviant sexual potential. Quar (Irish word for queer). Private versus public. Affect. Semiotically linked. Visual echo or chiming. “I don’t know why I brought you up here”–similarity to Brokeback Mountain.

Merri Lisa Johnson presented, “The Other Protest Psychosis: Borderline Personality Disorder and Black Masculinity in Mainstream US Hip Hop.” Her presentation was rescheduled from yesterday. Instead of schizophrenia, she argues that it is BPD. Crip feminist analysis. Crip theory? Gendering of supposed mental diseases–why are those persons diagnosed with BPD primarily female?  Criticisms against the DSM. Why are hip hop videos considered not art when supposed art house films depict similar imagery? Kanye’s public embarrassments and humiliations–turning the monstrous from outside to in. Lil Wayne. Monstrosity. Compulsive Able Mindedness. Not saying these guys have BPD (Narcissism). BPD can be turned into an “optic of analysis” in feminist studies for reading stereotyped groups. She mentioned this cool blog: Racialicious.


Argentinian gay films.

Irish film: The Long Falling. Less and less coalition building after decriminalization of homosexuality in Ireland.

Bill on the film Chicken: how you hold your beer to drink it. One man teaching another man to do what you do. The gay man who takes his own sperm/load into himself. Centralizing view that takes it into yourself and produce difference. Narcisitic image, holding one’s self, hands on top of one another. Redirect the energy into himself. “Spew!” He blows his load. How would you struggle with the term homosexual and queer? Does homo mean the same? Obsessed with his own image, looks for another man hoping to find that other man within himself. “I’m just shooting stuff in your direction.”

Homosexuality has a pathological background.

Chicken shown to adolescent men and women in Ireland. Men interested in the film until they hold hands, and then they viscerally push back. Women uninterested UNTIL they boys hold hands. Marketing has framed it as a gay film. Director says it was not a gay film. Queer film?

Problems of terminology.

David Gray. No talk about his sexuality. Collected guns–highly unusual behavior that the community kind of allowed, which set an unfortunate precedent according to Davinia. Outsider within the community. Small disagreements over the rocks Gray was putting around his crib/patch. Davinia hadn’t seen a gun until she first come to the US when she was 25.

Heavenly Creatures.

New Zealand film industry. Before the Gray film, the director did a popular film, Scarfies. Some resistance to Out of the Blue from community at first. Sarkies argued to them that he was from that community, too. Community involvement.

Kanye: “GWB doesn’t care about black people.” Crazy person vs. the political core of that statement. Crip theory allows you to see both at the same time.

Psychosocial–cluster of mental disabilities, social contexts create or exacerbate those conditions, mental conditions that break with reality.

Man alone is the problem. No single man alone solves the problem created by Gray. Several main characters responding to the trouble. The community responds and the community is the center of the story. Does not reify the man alone. Staring girl doesn’t buy Davinia’s explanation.

Monstrous black male. Co-opting the word ‘monster’ as the black community had previously co-opted the word ‘nigger’?

Madness and hiphop–Lauryn Hill. Removal of her from the public of hiphop? “Mad with motherhood.” Other controversies?

Masculinities Conference, Session 5, Drama Queens

Back at the Masculinities Conference for day two. Unfortunately, I missed the earlier Pater Familias session. Now, it session five: Drama Queens.

Wieland Schwanebeck studies Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley novels and film adaptations in his presentation, “Mr. Ripley’s Renaissance: Adaptable Masculinities for the New Millennium.” I wasn’t aware of the many film adaptations of the different Ripley novels.

Charity Fox presented, “At Home in the Battlefield: Mercenaries and paramilitary Patriotism in The A-Team, 1983-87.” This is the first of two presentations on a television show (and its novelizations). I had not heard of James William Gibson’s Warrior Dreams. Susan Jeffords’ Hard Bodies, too. Charity’s presentation was perhaps the most interesting so far for me, because I grew up watching The A-Team in the early-mid 1980s.

E. Anna Claydon continues her work in an earlier book in her presentation, “Masculinity and the Crime Drama in Britain and the U.S.: The Transnationality of the Detective and His Nemesis.” Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Monk, and Sherlock Holmes. Alternative Sherlock characters. There was a question about age-focus for The A-Team. I added that I grew up watching The A-Team and that there was a line of A-Team action figures. Final note: the Supreme Court said recently that the US govt can regulate sex but violence is a free-for-all.

Why is the conference attendee sitting in front of me continually turning around to look at me taking notes on my laptop? This is the year 2011 and laptop computers are rather ubiquitous now, correct? I can safely report that I returned her dirty look with a Gorgon-like stare.

Q&A: What day of the week is masculinity scheduled for television? Other Vietnam vet starring character shows from the 1980s: Magnum PI, Airwolf, MacGyver, others?

Masculinities Conference, Session 3, Gendered Inversions

The third session of the Masculinities Conference on Gendered Inversions features two presentations on upended gendered expectations of heteronormativity. Nadyne Stritzke’s “The Manly Art of Pregnancy: Male Pregnancy as a Narartiv, Socio-Culture, and Subversive Phenomenon” was the only presentation so far to explicitly evoke feminist science fiction including Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness and Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time. However, she distinguishes between non-female pregnancy (e.g., alien intervention) and male pregnancy. Nadyne posed a final research question about whether there really is an m-preg genre. I believe that she already knew the answer to this as yes (in part at least). Another question might be to what extent this is a more widely accepted narrative device?  There is a fair amount of fanfic and a notable collection of science fiction stories, TV episodes (Star Trek Enterprise), and films (Junior) [more here]. Mirjam M. Frotscher explores the novels Stone Butch Blues, Sacred Country, Trumpet, and Middlesex in her presentation, “Gaining Visibility/Undoing Maleness: Non-Normative Masculinities since the 1990s.”

This session is sustaining the strongest among strong today’s q&a sessions. There’s something to be said for two paper sessions on complementary themes. Thoughts on psychoanalysis and narratology. Other examples–beginning of Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms features Italian soldiers walking over the hill with their ammo belts appear pregnant. Is there a difference between telling about male pregnancy and showing male pregnancy? In books, moves close to the character without having to define the character in a singular term. Some books provide more descriptions of the character/body while others do not. Ian M. Banks’ has characters in his novels who can swap at will between male and female bodies–what titles? Two categorical considerations: Morphological anxiety over what goes where–Will Self’s book. Voice and passing, voice of self determination.

Masculinities Conference, Session 2, Scripting Manliness

We are now into the question and answer portion of the Masculinities Conference second session, Scripting Manliness. Erik Pietschmann presented on The Beach and American Psycho, Raili Marling presented on Blue Valentine, and Keisha Lindsay presented on black men’s crisis narratives. This was a very integrated session even though the papers were independently conceived. Besides the theoretical connections between the papers, each presenter seems to take a very careful and nuanced approach to their respective subjects.

Lots of energized commenting and questions . . . Professor Babacar M’Baye is raising issues of multiplicities of masculinities and how that relates to black men on both sides of the Atlantic . . . Professor Stefan Horlacher raises significant questions about the panelists’ definitions of violence and masculinity, because the definitions employed could radically change the framework of the respective papers.

Masculinities Conference at Kent State, Session 1, Handle with Care

The Masculinities Conference at Kent State is already off to a great start. We are in the Q&A of the first session after Seth Friedman and Kerry Luckett gave their respective presentations on The Usual Suspects/Unbreakable and Zombie/Silence of the Lambs.

In particular, Kerry’s presentation got me thinking about my monstrous cyborgs encyclopedia article that I am currently writing. Skins and surfaces are important elements to consider when it comes to defining the cyborg as a monstrous hybrid being, because there are subversive cyborgs that hide their hybridity (and can be revealed).

Even though this isn’t a science fiction conference, we just went into Luke Skywalker’s asexual behavior save the relationship/flirtation with his sister. I knew that this would be a good conference!


Professor Kevin Floyd is hosting an international conference this weekend at Kent State called, “MASCULINITIES BETWEEN THE NATIONAL AND THE TRANSNATIONAL, 1980 TO THE PRESENT.” Held from August 5-7, 2011, it is a continuation of the larger Humboldt Project that Floyd is developing with his counterpart at the Technische Universität Dresden, Professor Stefan Horlacher. Being a single track conference, I believe that it will be an intensive investigation of the issues raised by each of the presenters. You can download the conference program here. The conference is free and open to the public. See you there!

CFP reminder Feb 15 deadline – Masculinities Between the National and the Transnational 1980-Present

Kevin Floyd, who administered my 20th century American literature exam and is on my dissertation committee, is co-organizing a series of international workshops on masculinities in Britain and the US. The deadline for the CFP is soon: February 15. Read below for all the details.

Call for Papers – Feb 15 deadline

Between the National and the Transnational, 1980 to the Present: Masculinities in Britain and the U.S.

The Second of Three International Workshops:

Kent State University, August 4-7, 2011

Recent scholarship in the study of masculinities suggests any number of ways in which this field has begun to move beyond the cataloging of pluralized masculinities that has characterized so much scholarship on this topic. The organizers of this workshop believe that masculinities should be examined at a number of different analytic levels, ranging from the most location-oriented and culturally specific, to the national, to the transnational.

In this context, this workshop will focus on the articulation of masculinities over the last three decades in Britain and the U.S. It especially wants to encourage scholarly and critical movement in a direction that both builds on recent work in the field of masculinity studies and moves beyond it, toward more comparative kinds of analysis. What lines of interchange and influence in the cultural and literary imagining of masculinity can be traced between Britain and the U.S. during the last thirty years? How do recent articulations of masculinity reimagine established understandings of gender? How should we understand the ways in which relations between hegemonic and counterhegemonic masculinities operate both similarly and differently in these two locations? And how to understand the ways in which masculinity operates in relation to key issues mapped out by recent scholarship, from transgender, intersex, and disability studies, to research on space, geography, migration, neoliberalism, biopolitics, and warfare?

We seek innovative scholarship on masculinities in Britain and the U.S. from roughly 1980 to the present. We especially encourage comparative work, analyses that operate in simultaneously national and transnational terms.

Please e-mail an abstract of no more than 500 words, along with a c.v., to both Kevin Floyd ( and Stefan Horlacher ( The deadline for submissions is February 15, 2011. Please direct inquiries to Kevin Floyd.

This conference is funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and Kent State University. Partial subsidies for participants will be available.

via CFP reminder Feb 15 deadline – Masculinities Between the National and the Transnational 1980-Present.