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modernisms & masculinities

January 17, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Precipitated by the imperial and class conflicts of the First World War and the Winnipeg General Strike, Canada witnessed not only the conjuncture of labour movements, leftist politics, and arts communities throughout the postwar and interwar periods but also the collaboration of novelists, short-story writers, poets, and dramatists in the production of socially and politically progressive cultural formations through the onset of the Cold War. This blog documents work in progress towards a book-length study of masculinist modernisms and modernist masculinities in English Canadian poetry, fiction, and drama of the postwar (1919–28), interwar (1929–39), Second World War (1939–45), and early Cold War (1946–55) periods. Divided into four chapters—1. Labouring Modernity: Utopian Anti-modernism and Cross-Class Masculinities, 2. Masculinist Manifestoes: Third Period Anti-modernism and Socialist Modernism, 3. Modernist Travellers: Antifascism, Alternative Masculinities, and the Popular Front, 4. Cold War Masculinities: Spies, Communists, and Anti-communists—this study will contest the prevalent literary-historical construction of a singular, dominant masculinity. Rather than a singular masculinity, I argue, modernist masculinities are internally differentiated when they are articulated with other identity categories (race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, etc.) that produce what Robert Connell, in Masculinities (1995; rev. ed. 2005), identifies as a hierarchy of masculinities: hegemonic, complicitous, marginalized, and subordinated. And rather than a singular modernism, I contend, masculinist modernisms consist of a conflicted set of aesthetic ideologies that produce multiple, contradictory cultural formations. The working title for this book is Sinister Plots: Masculinist Modernisms and Modernist Masculinities in Canada. Its narrative trajectory moves from a time of heteronormative and reactionary masculinities and (anti)modernisms in the postwar and early interwar periods toward a signal moment in Canadian literary history beginning in the mid-1930s when hegemonic masculinities and modernisms started to fall into decline and marginalized masculinities and modernisms (queer, ethnic, diasporic) entered an emergent phase of cultural formation.

Categories: masculinities, modernism
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