Issues of race, gender, women's rights, masculinity, and sexuality continue to be debated on the national scene. These subjects have also been in the forefront of American literature, particularly in the last fifty years. One significant trend in contemporary fiction has been the failure of the heroic masculine protagonist.
In Hypermasculinities in the Contemporary Novel: Cormac McCarthy, Toni Morrison, and James Baldwin, Josef Benson examines key literary works of the twentieth century, notably Blood Meridian (1985), All the Pretty Horses (1992), Song of Solomon (1977), and Another Country (1960). Benson argues that exaggerated masculinities originated on the American frontier and have transformed into a definition of ideal masculinity embraced by many southern rural American men. Defined by violence, racism, sexism, and homophobia, these men concocted or perpetuated myths about African Americans to justify their mistreatment and mass murder of black men after Reconstruction. As Benson illustrates, the protagonists in these texts fail to perpetuate hypermasculinities, and as a result a sense of ironic heroism emerges from the narratives.
Offering a unique and bold argument that connects the masculinities of cowboys and frontier figures with black males, Hypermasculinities in the Contemporary Novel suggests alternative possibilities for American men going forward. Scholars and students of American literature and culture, African American literature and culture, and queer and gender theory will find this book illuminating and persuasive.
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
Number of pages: 158
Weight: 381 g
Dimensions: 236 x 161 x 17 mm
In this reading of novels by Morrison, McCarthy, and Baldwin, Benson seeks to reframe cultural ideals of masculinity. He first articulates a connection between the rugged frontiersman of southern lore and the stereotypical black hypersexual male by understanding both as arising from rural southern white ideals of hypermasculinity. He then reads Morrison, Baldwin, and McCarthy as interrogating that hypermasculine identity through their protagonists, who refuse to perpetuate this identity and-by resisting-become ironic heroes. This seeming failure becomes, paradoxically, a space of revision whereby, Benson argues, one might find a new definition of black masculinity. . . .Summing Up: Recommended. . . .Graduate students, researchers, faculty. * CHOICE *