Performing American Masculinities

Performing American Masculinities

The 21st-Century Man in Popular Culture
Edited by Elwood Watson and Marc E. Shaw
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 04/21/2011
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-22270-1
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This collection highlights the fluidity of masculinity in American popular culture at the turn of the new millennium and beyond by examining possibilities for male identity formation. Each chapter mines American popular culture—theatre, film, literature, music, advertising, internet content, television, photography, and current events—to pose questions about the process of gender creation and the contestation of masculinities as constantly changing political forms. The first section explores masculinities within late capitalism and includes studies of Seinfeld, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and reality television. The second section addresses identity when masculinity intersects with race, religion, disability, and sexuality, including chapters on Barack Obama, the O.J. trial, and popular movies.

Author Bio

Elwood Watson is Professor of History, African American Studies, and Gender Studies at East Tennessee State University. He is author of Outsiders Within: Black Women in the Legal Academy after Brown v. Board.

Marc E. Shaw is Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts at Hartwick College. His recent publications include contributions to the book Twilight and Philosophy.


“Highlighting the fluidity of masculinity in American popular culture at the turn of the new millennium and beyond, this collection examines possibilities for male identity formation.”

“Shaw and Watson have assembled a collection in which well-known cultural artifacts—the OJ trial Seinfeld, metrosexuality and Barack Obama, among others—are reconsidered in the light of gender studies. The result is fresh and bold, enabling us to see these events and images in a new light.”
 — Michael Kimmel, author of Manhood in America

“Performing American Masculinities focuses usefully on a range of specific anxieties related to masculinity, including those created by differences of race and sexuality, as well as of non-normative gender subjectivities.”
 — David Buchbinder, Curtin University of Technology

“This overview of turn-of-the-millennium sexual identities examines the contradictions and instabilities inherent in latter-day American masculinity as evidenced in pop culture. ... A fine contribution to contemporary gender criticism. ...Highly recommended.October 2011”
 — Choice

“Into this [cultural studies] minefield, 'Performing American Masculinities' steps and, given its expansive scope of inquiry (ranging from Seinfeld [NBC, 1989–1998] to Obama), attempts to cover a lot of ground. An admirable . . . ambition to map representational through-lines across textual forms and to address both fictional performances and real embodiments of American masculinity . . . .Fall 2013”
 — Cinema Journal

“Performing American Masculinities is a good introductory text for studying depictions of masculinities in popular culture. The information and analysis presented in the book are accessible to an interdisciplinary audience . . .17.1 April 2014”
 — Men and Masculinities

“With a judicious balance between gender theory and pop-cultural readings, Performing American Masculinities offers a diverse and exciting collection suited to a variety of disciplines and projects. The text provides a cogent introduction to masculinities and a specialized focus that marks the potential of masculinity studies through popular culture. RICKI LAKE SHOW”
 — Journal of Popular Culture

“'Performing American Masculinities' offers a series of essays on representations of masculinity across a range of contemporary popular cultural texts. The essays in the collection assess a broad range of cultural artefacts all produced in a relatively short time frame (roughly 1990-2010).... All of the essays offer sustained close readings of the cultural texts/formations that constitute their primary objects. These readings are, more often than not, thorough and engaging. In almost every instance, the value of the cultural objects under study to the subject of contemporary masculinities is apparent. In this, the volume provides a useful introduction to the contemporary cultural formations of masculinity.November 2012”
 — Journal of American Studies

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Table of Contents


Introduction: From Seinfeld to Obama: Millennial Masculinities in Contemporary American Culture / Marc E. Shaw and Elwood Watson

Part 1. Masculinities and the Market: Late Capitalism and Corporate Influence on Gender Processes
1. Masters of Their Domain: Seinfeld and the Discipline of Mediated Men's Sexual Economy / C. Wesley Buerkle
2. Sexually Suspect: Masculine Anxiety in the Films of Neil LaBute / Brenda Boudreau
3. The Might of the Metrosexual: How a Mere Marketing Tool Challenges Hegemonic Masculinity / Margaret C. Ervin
4. Fathers, Sons, and Business in the Hollywood "Office Movie" / Latham Hunter

Part 2. Beyond Gender Alone: Defining Multidimensional Masculinities
5. Popular Memory, Racial Construction, and the Visual Illusion of Freedom: The Re-mediation of O.J. and Cinque / John Kille
6. Obama's Masculinities: A Landscape of Essential Contradictions / Marc E. Shaw and Elwood Watson
7. The Male Rapunzel in Film: The Intersections of Disability, Gender, Race, and Sexuality / Johnson Cheu and Carolyn Tyjewski
8. Masculinities in Dating Relationships: Reality and Representation at the Intersection of Race, Class, and Sexual Orientation / Jimmie Manning
9. "Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Real Man?": Female-to-Male Transgender Embodiment and the Politics of the "Real" in A Boy Named Sue and Body Alchemy / Michel J. Boucher


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