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So Badly Prepared

Joseph Cox

I wonder what my son saw. Two tours in Iraq, the loss of two best friends, in two violent provinces, end punctuated by two months in peaceful Kurdistan, time to reflect in relative safety.

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Abjection and the Cinematic Cholo

The Chicano Gang Stereotype in Sociohistoric Context

Richard Mora

In this brief research note, the author uses a sociohistoric lens to examine selected films that have employed the cholo, or Chicano gang member, stereotype. He finds that the cholo is a prevalent archetype of Mexican and Mexican American youth. The author argues that the depiction of the cholo as a hypermasculine, abject personage threatening the social order converges with how actual Latino youth are constructed in sociopolitical and media discourses—as both marginalized young men and migrants unworthy of membership in U.S. society.

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Delinquents, Savages, and Lovers

An Introduction to the Cinema of Boyhood

Jeffery P. Dennis

Introduces this special issue’s theme of “Boys and Cinema,” discussing the emergence of a specific, international cinema of boyhood in the early 1960s, and five main themes established within it by the late 1960s.

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The Evolving Psychoanalytic Vision of Boyhood(s) and Masculinity(ies)

Clifton Edward Watkins

Over the course of the past century, the dominant psychoanalytic paradigm for understanding boyhood and male gender identity development has been grounded in two complementary visions: Freud’s original formulations and, later, the propositions of Ralph Greenson and Robert Stoller. Each of those visions, history suggests, contain a certain harshness, rigidity, and fixity about gender roles and can even be seen as supporting an unhealthy bifurcation between male and female. In the last generation of psychoanalytic scholarship, a viable alternative vision about boyhood and “boys becoming men”—what I term the “post-structuralist psychoanalytic view”—has emerged and increasingly gained structure, definition, and traction. In this paper, I identify some of the important elements of that evolving vision (still very much a work in progress), review briefly three robust areas of current post-structural focus, and consider some of the differences between past and present conceptualizations. While not ignoring pathology and dysfunction, the post-structural psychoanalytic vision also gives voice to health and function, variation and differentiation, creation and construction, and “more life”; it can be seen as a reclamation of the positive and a celebration of the infinite hope, promise, and possibility of all that is boys and boyhood.

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Lost Boys

The Infernal Youth of the Cinematic Teenage Vampire

Simon Bacon

This paper takes a comparative look at the configuration of boyhood as shown in two periods of the vampire film: the teen-vamp explosion of the 1980s, which produced Joel Schumacher’s The Lost Boys, and recent representations in vampire romance such as Edward Cullen in Stephanie Meyer’s The Twilight Saga. In particular, it highlight the tensions between cultural constructions of boyhood and how the young male child himself conforms to, or opposes, ideological impositions. It also pinpoints the opportunities eventuated through the figure of the adolescent vampire as regards the construction of personal agency and self-determination.

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Tough Guys, Tattle-Tales, and Tears

Hollywood Defines the American Boy, 1930–1934

Peter Lee

This essay examines the portrayals of boys in American film, especially Jackie Cooper, during the “pre-code” period of Hollywood sound films, roughly 1930-1934. With the Great Depression cutting movie attendance, studios explored social taboos to entice audiences. As a result, childhood concerns, including issues of adoption, strained parental (especially father-son) relationships, or failing before one’s peers, were themes that threatened boys’ identities.

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Wally Cleaver Goes to War

The Boy Citizen-Solider on the Cold War Screen

Ann Kordas

This paper examines the ways in which instructional films, television shows, and television commercials both depicted and sought to construct the experience of American boyhood in the decades immediately following World War II. During the Cold War, many American adults feared that boys lacked the “masculine” qualities required by future defenders of the United States. Believing that boys needed additional instruction in appropriate gender behavior, educators turned to a new film genre: the classroom instructional film. Films in this genre emphasized the importance of patriotism, respect for order and authority, and the need for emotional and physical discipline in American males. Television shows and toy commercials also encouraged boys to envision themselves as future soldiers and defenders of freedom.

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Crossing Divides

An Argument Catalogue of Submissions to the 2000 Australian Government Inquiry into the Education of Boys

Deborah Hartman

This article describes a study of a sample of submissions to an Australian government Inquiry into the Education of Boys, using a relatively new methodology for reviewing literature, called an argument catalogue. The study examines the usefulness of the methodology to an analysis of the complex field of boys’ education. The author argues that the argument catalogue approach offers a way of including and analysing all voices within the field, particularly the previously under-represented views of parents and practitioners and that despite complexities, there are commonalities that can be built on, which are critical to any positive change in this field.

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Gender Differences in Perceptions of School Life and Self-Concept

Considerations for Addressing Gender in Secondary School Settings

Victoria Clay

It has long been argued that gender considerations are an important factor in educational outcomes for students. The impact of social and of cultural beliefs concerning the value of education has often been implicated in gender differences in outcomes of schooling. While social constructions of masculinity warrant scrutiny both in society in general and in education, a focus on the social determinants of behaviour and attitudes does not always allow for full consideration of individual factors, such as affective or social-emotional determinants of responses to situations. This paper discusses the findings of a qualitative study of student perceptions of quality of school life and of student self-concept that was conducted in six different Australian schools. The findings of this study show that as well as gender differences, there were differences related to the school location, the socio-economic group the students belonged to, and the age of the student. These findings point towards the need to investigate gender in schools using an ecological model of gendered perceptions of school life that can take account of both individual and environmental factors.

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Gender Policy in Australian Schools

A Missed Opportunity?

Deborah Hartman

This paper describes the rise of boys’ education as a substantial social and educational issue in Australia in the 1990s, mapping the changes in Australian discourses on boys’ education in this period. Ideas and authors informed by the men’s movement entered the discourses about boys’ education, contributing to a wave of teacher experimentation and new ways of thinking about gender policies in schools. The author suggests that there is currently a policy impasse, and proposes a new multi-disciplinary approach bringing together academic, practitioner, policy, and public discourses on boys’ education.