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From Patriotic Troops to Branded Boyhood

Hegemonic Boyhood Masculinity as Depicted in Boy’s Life Magazine, 1911–2012

Susan M. Alexander and Kelsey Collins

Hegemonic masculinity is a fluid concept that varies according to historical period and social and cultural location. While much has been written about hegemonic masculinity as experienced by adult men, research is lacking on hegemonic masculinity in boyhood from an historical perspective. Using a quantitative content analysis of images on the covers of Boy’s Life magazine, this study finds three distinct historically specific images of hegemonic American boyhood masculinity: boys who serve their country as patriotic scouts in uniform; boys who admire celebrities, particularly professional athletes; and a branded boyhood in which boys wear brand name products while engaging in sports activities.

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Michael C. Reichert

Judy Y. Chu. 2014. When Boys Become Boys: Development, Relationships, and Masculinity. New York: New York University Press. 227 pp. ISBN: 978-0-8147-6480-0

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Sarah C. Hunter and Damien W. Riggs

Books published on fathering and raising boys are becoming increasingly popular. These books claim simply to describe boys and fathers. However we suggest that they make only specific identities available. We make this suggestion on the basis of a critical analysis of six books published since an initial study by Riggs (2008). In this article we extend Riggs’s analysis by identifying how the books analyzed draw upon hegemonic masculine ideals in constructing boys’ and fathers’ identities. The analysis also suggests that biological essentialism is used to justify the identities constructed. Five specific implications are drawn from the findings, focusing on understandings of males as well as females, the uptake of dominant modes of talking about males, and the ramifications of biological essentialism. The findings emphasize the need to pay ongoing attention to popular parenting books since, rather than offering improved strategies for raising boys, these books present assertions of what boys and fathers should be.

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Introduction

Schools, Masculinity and Boyness in the War Against Boys

Chris Haywood, Máirtín Mac an Ghaill, and Jonathan A. Allan

The re-publication of Christine Hoff Sommers’s book on the War Against Boys (2000, 2013) continues to feed into a widely circulating premise that feminist inspired pedagogical strategies are having a detrimental effect on boys’ experience of education. It resonates with a UK newspaper article whose author asked: “Why do women teachers like me treat being a boy as an illness?” (Child 2010). In the late 1990s, Sara Delamont had already highlighted how the media targeted feminists for the failure of boys, where “school and classroom regimes … favour females and feminine values; a lack of academic/scholarly male role models for boys, a bias in favour of feminism in curricula, a lack of toughness in discipline, and a rejection of competition in academic or sporting matters” (1999: 14).

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Jonathan A. Allan

Crises of masculinity and wars on boys often deploy the suicides of young males as a rhetorical strategy in raising awareness for a political cause, that is to say a declaration of war, a war that remains dubious at best. Who, for instance, declared “war” on “boys”? This paper argues that theorists of gender, particularly masculinity, must think carefully and critically about suicide as a rhetorical strategy. In particular, this paper seeks to explain why men’s rights activists and scholars prefer the term “boys” to “young men” or “adolescents,” and subsequently aims to work through ideas of temporality, futurity, and slow death to understand the deployment of suicide as strategy.

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Jeffery Vacante

Christopher J. Greig. 2014. Ontario Boys: Masculinity and the Idea of Boyhood in Postwar Ontario, 1945-1960. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. Xxviii+182 pp. ISBN: 978-1-55458-900-5

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Joseph Nelson

Michael Reichert and Richard Hawley. 2014. I Can Learn from You: Boys as Relational Learners. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press. 216 pp. ISBN: 9781612506647

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There Are No Girl Pirate Captains

Boys, Girls and the "Boy Crisis" in Preschool

Sally Campbell Galman and Christine A. Mallozzi

This paper employs data from from a multi-year, ethnographic study of children in a diverse public preschool to destabilize some of the claims of the “boy crisis” literature (Hoff-Somers, 2000). Focusing on fine-grained analyses of events in the study context, the authors illustrate the complexity of everyday interactions between female teachers and the male and female preschoolers in their classes, as well as between the male and female preschoolers themselves. These analyses suggest that a preschool environment where all teachers are female is as patriarchally and hegemonically saturated as any other context, as both boys and girls (and teachers) are subject to, and invariably take up, powerful cultural scripts reflected in children’s and other media in the larger cultural milieu. Further, we emphasize that preschool—arguably among the most “feminized” school environments—is more complex than “boy crisis” proponents present.

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"The Dangerous Book Four Boys"

James Franco's Psychosexual Artistic Explorations of Boyhood

Dinah Holtzman

In 2010, James Franco debuted his exhibition “The Dangerous Book Four Boys” at the Clocktower Gallery. He appropriated his title from the Igguldens’ guidebook The Dangerous Book for Boys (2006). This paper explores Franco’s representation of boyhood, focusing on his anxiety over traditional gender roles. Dangerous depicts boyhood as a homosocial and homoerotic realm in which women are both envied and elided. Franco’s vision of boyhood is premised upon a longing for both domestic structures and practices. The exhibit is organized around several small rough-hewn wooden structures resembling small houses. Inside the constructions, the films Destroy House and Castle depict young men destroying identical domiciles with axes, shotguns and blowtorches. Ironically, these violent depictions are safely contained within intact replicas of the very structures being destroyed in the films. These constructions are emblematic of Franco’s fraught relationship to masculinity, stereotypical gender roles and domesticity.

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Mapping the (Adolescent) Male Body

Queerness, Pedophilia and Perversions in "L.I.E." and "Mysterious Skin"

Sarag E. S. Sinwell

Drawing on the work of Gayle Rubin, Jonathan Dollimore, and B. Ruby Rich, this paper will explore the ways in which Michael Cuesta’s L.I.E. (2000) and Gregg Araki’s Mysterious Skin (2004) portray adolescent male bodies and subjectivities within the context of the queer. Throughout these films, cinematic identification is primarily tied up with the stories of adolescent boys. However, the perverse acts in which they participate (both voluntarily and involuntarily), the inclusion of multiple points of view, and the focus on our own cultural constructions of childhood, adolescent and adult sexualities trace a network of nodes of identification. Thus, I argue that L.I.E. and Mysterious Skin queer identification by imagining a multiplicity, fluidity, and diversity of modes of identification that engage with both the normal and perverse natures of identity, sexuality, and subjectivity.