Towards New Masculinity: Great Literature and the Rediscovery of Manhood

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In this paper I argue that traditional and vital concepts of manhood in the West have largely given way to an inert culture of passivity and escapism as men become less aware of past conceptions of manhood. Post-Modern culture neglects the past,and thus isolates the western male from the single resource they most need in order to rehabilitate manhood, namely "Old Books"/"Great Literature". The superficial fantasies of vicarious manhood (technology, consumerism, computer games, spectator sports, etc.) fail to cultivate a masculinity aware of its historical and social responsiblities; a manhood capable of acting in history for the betterment of mankind. Although literature has largely been used, of late, as a platform for feminism and for the demonstration of the evils of patriarchy and masculine hegemony, I argue that in doing this we have acted excessively. The increasing feminization of literary studies fails in this key respect: that it makes reading literature increasingly irrevelant to male readers unless, that is, they have become complicit in the feminization of culture. In this paper I offer two brief, but telling, readings of familiar literary passages in order to demonstrate that literature offers the best hope for a renewal of masculine culture that is both sensitive to its own liabilities yet also active and able to propose new ways of being male in the post-modern world.

Keywords: Masculinity, Great Literature, Renewal of Manhood
Stream: Literature, Literary Studies
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Dr. Karl G. Wilcox

Associate Professor of English, English Department, Southwestern Adventist University
Keene, Texas, USA

My current scholarly work focuses on appropriating ancient texts, especially the Hebrew Bible, as avenues to new solutions to contemporary issues/concerns. My academic training is in English literature, especially the literature of the Middle Ages. I have also worked for some years as a Professional Mountaineering Guide, and I currently race bicycles in my leisure time.

Ref: H08P0125