Pinks, Pansies, and Punks

Pinks, Pansies, and Punks

The Rhetoric of Masculinity in American Literary Culture
James Penner
Distribution: World
Publication date: 12/23/2010
Format: Paperback 11 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-22251-0
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From the author:
There is one last issue that needs to be sorted out: I noticed the product description on Amazon has one error. The following sentence from the product description needs to be eliminated: "He examines the macho criticism that originated in the 1930s within the high modernist New York intellectual circle..."

The reference to the "high modernist New York intellectual circle" is not accurate. It needs to be revised. Here is my revised version. Please enter the following new product description:

"Pinks, Pansies, and Punks" charts the construction of masculinity within American literary culture from the 1930s to the 1970s. Penner documents the emergence of "macho criticism," and explores how debates about "hard" and "soft" masculinity influenced the class struggles of the 1930s, anti-communism in the 1940s and 1950s, and the clash between the Old Left and the New Left in the 1960s. By extending literary culture to include not just novels, plays, and poetry, but diaries, journals, manifestos, screenplays, and essays on psychology and sociology, Penner unveils the multiplicity of gender attitudes that emerge in each of the decades he addresses.

Author Bio

James Penner is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Puerto Rico.


“James Penner takes readers on a thrilling—and, at times, unnerving—grand tour of mid 20th-century masculinities, documenting the never-ending struggle between the hard, macho man and the soft, sensitive, artistic soul. Careening between Alfred Kinsey and Jack Kerouac, Tennessee Williams and Eldridge Cleaver, Penner surveys an extraordinary range of novels, films, plays, and criticism to demonstrate how deeply entrenched these opposing mythologies are in American culture.”
 — David Savran, The Graduate Center, City University of New York

“James Penner's book is an elegant and entertaining walk through the urban jungle of U.S. literary culture since the 1930s. It casts new light on famous texts, and reveals the multiple forms of textual masculinity, the pervasiveness of gender, and the paradoxical connections between hard and soft masculinities in U.S. public culture. A pleasure to read, this is a valuable contribution to both literary studies and gender analysis.”
 — Raewyn Connell, author of Masculinities

“Through exhaustive research and witty prose, Penner reveals that the stakes of modern American literary culture too often relied upon what could—and could not—count for an authentically masculine critique.”
 — Scott Herring, Indiana University Bloomington

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Table of Contents

Introduction: A Short History of Macho Criticism
1. "Healthy Nerves and Sturdy Physiques": Remaking the Male Body of Literary Culture in the 1930s
2. Doughfaces, Eggheads, and Softies: Gendered Epithets and American Literary Culture in the 1940s
3. Highbrows and Lowbrows: Squares, Beats, Hipsters, White Negroes, New Critics, and American Literary Culture in the 1950s
4. Reforming the Hard Body: The Old Left, the Counterculture, and the Masculine Kulturkampf of the 1960s
5. The Gender Upheavals of the Late 1960s and Early 1970s: The Black Panthers, Gay Liberation, and Radical Feminism
Epilogue: The End of Innuendo

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