Ordinary, Extraordinary Men Heroism, Community, Crisis, and the Prescription for American Masculinity in Continental Drift, Watchmen, and Fight Club

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Description: In this project, I embark on a masculinist reading of three late twentieth century texts: Continental Drift (1985) by Russell Banks, Watchmen (1986, 1987) by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, and Fight Club (1996) by Chuck Palahniuk. I define a "masculinist" reading as the underutilized counterpart to the already-established field of feminist critique. Michael Kimmel points out that feminist scholarship, while ostensibly about gender as a whole, has focused primarily on the female sex. "[W]e continue to act as if gender applied only to women," he writes, while "men, themselves, are invisible as men " ( Gendered Society 6, emphasis in original). These three texts approach the question of masculinity in different ways and each author or pair of authors has a different idea of what precisely the masculine crisis is, but all three agree that a crisis is occurring and that it must be addressed. These texts serve as the authors' organized responses to the masculine crisis, with each work exploring one or more unsuccessful constructions of masculinity and positing a new direction for the American male. Common themes among the texts include: economics and work, male roles and masculine archetypes, men's relationship to women, the need for masculine community, and the place and function of heroism in everyday society. I argue that Banks, Moore and Gibbons, and Palahniuk are united in rejecting grandiose, larger-than-life constructions of masculinity. In their works, they stress the power of the everyman and the necessity of ordinary, everyday heroism.
Language: English
Format: Degree Work