Though the authors in this general issue of Screen Bodies engage with a wide array of media, they express a shared group of concerns. Namely, how recent technological advancements and the big data cultures of the Information Age are altering social norms concerning the body, the subject, and intimacy. The first two articles focus on increasingly data-oriented cultures that have given rise to aesthetics derived from quantification and mathematics. In “Qualities Over Quantities: Metric and Narrative Identities in Dataveillant Art Practice,” Amy Christmas examines the “surveillant aesthetic” present in three multimedia art projects—Hasan Elahi’s Tracking Transience (2002 to present), Jill Magid’s Composite (2005), and Heather Dewey-Hagborg’s Stranger Visions (2012–2013). Christmas argues that these artists explore new modes of subject constitution and constraint, and reveal the potential of “dataveillance” to bridge formerly disconnected processes of “quantitative (metric) and qualitative (narrative)” self-formation. Similarly taking up questions of aesthetics, the “quantified self,” and its relation to narrative, Kallie Strode examines the datafication of beauty in “Narrating (Sur)face: The Marquardt Mask and Interdisciplinary Beauty.” Strode reflects on the ethics of quantifying beauty and looks to the plastic surgery method patented by Stephen Marquardt, who has developed a model of facial beauty using the golden ratio. The Marquardt mask, she argues, exemplifies an algorithmic aesthetic that is being applied to the reformation of bodies. Along similar lines, in “Cyborgian Salariats” Stephanie Bender argues that the individual is subordinated and rationalized by modern technology. Bender examines how Sasha Stone’s photo essay “Hundred-Horsepower Office” presents an optimistic vision of a new kind of subject, the Weimar-era white-collar worker, a human-machine assemblage that combines the body and modern office technology.
Bodies and Subjects in the Era of Big Data
Andrew J. Ball
Images of Boyhood in Croatian Young Adult Novels in English Translation
This article gives an outline of stereotypical representation of the Balkans as a predominantly violent culture that legitimizes violence through the lenses of (hyper)masculinized characters represented in Croatian literature for young adults selected for translation into English. A representation of this stereotypical image can be found in one of the most recent translations of a contemporary novel for children from Croatia, Odohohol and Cally Rascal by Matko Sršen. Meanwhile, the second case study of this article focuses on the analysis of translated young adult literature that promotes or contests violent masculinities. The novel The Teacher of My Dreams by Miro Gavran portrays a more complex image of masculinity from the Western Balkans, promoting a depiction of an emotional, intellectual, and rational male.
Lyubov Bugaeva, Rory Kelly, Susan McCabe, and Janina Wildfeuer
Ana Hedberg Olenina. Psychomotor Aesthetics: Movement and Affect in Modern Literature and Film. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020, 416 pp., $36.95 (paperback), ISBN: 9780190051266.
Jennifer O’Meara. Engaging Dialogue: Cinematic Verbalism in American Independent Cinema. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018, 218 pp., $29.95 (paperback), ISBN: 9781474420624.
Malcolm Turvey. Play Time: Jacques Tati and Comedic Modernism. New York: Columbia University Press, 2019, 304 pp., $30.00 (paperback), ISBN: 9780231193030.
Neil Cohn. Who Understands Comics? London: Bloomsbury, 2020, 240 pp., $42.75 (paperback), ISBN 978-1-3501-5603-6.
Jonathan A. Allan and Cliff Leek
This special issue of Boyhood Studies takes two terms—boys and storytelling—and positions them alongside one another. In some ways, we take seriously Charles Dickens’s oft-quoted notion that “A boy’s story is the best that is ever told.” What does it mean to take the stories of boys and boys’ stories seriously? Are they really among the “best that [are] ever told”? In the space of education, and with declining literacy rates among boys, what does it mean to study storytelling? Or, what might it mean, to borrow a phrase from Carol Mavor (2008), to “read boyishly”? In this special issue, we hoped to bring together scholars working on the relationship between boys and storytelling, to consider the kinds of stories that boys are told, and to also consider the stories that they are not told. Our goal was to consider the importance of storytelling in boys’ lives as well as the importance of the storytelling of boys’ lives. That is, we were interested in boys as both real and embodied, as well as in the fictional boys that populate the literary universe. The issue presented here brings together a host of perspectives that all work to explore and expand the literary and cultural study of boys and storytelling.
A Typology of Supporting Characters in Queer-Themed Picture Books
Although queer picture books are growing in popularity, research on these texts still tends toward an overgeneralization of the field. This article takes a narrow focus on secondary characters in texts that center boys wearing dresses to see what reactions to boyhood gender nonconformity are supported in this subcategory of texts. Through close readings of various scenes throughout eight picture books, the article highlights gendered and aged patterns in these responses: women are supportive but distant, girls are close allies, men are absent or hesitant to support the boys, and other boys are generally bullies. The article concludes that while these texts are ostensibly queer because of their protagonists’ gender performances, they nevertheless fail to disrupt gender norms beyond the lives of their central characters.
Representations of Race and Boyhood in Infant and Toddler Media
Heather Moore Roberson
The hit streaming series Cocomelon has become a household name for many families with infants, toddlers, and kids at heart. Cocomelon introduces our youngest population(s) to a Western world that privileges flawed and utopian post-racial perspectives. I contend that the show presents a perspective on race and identity that glorifies color-blindness and ignores racial differences that would educate children about the complexity and beauty of diversity. This commentary imagines a Black infant and toddler boyhood in children’s media that prioritizes race, culture, and identity and recommends other children’s programs that invest in culturally diverse representations of childhood.
Reading about Boys in Early Twentieth-Century Girl Scout and Camp Fire Girl Series Fiction
This article examines boy characters in early twentieth-century girls’ scouting fiction. These series, marketed using the names of the recently established girls’ organizations, supported female empowerment. They also included important boy characters: brothers, companions, villains, and bullies. The first three types are exemplars of what boys’ workers envisioned as middle-class manhood: youthful wildness and spunk channeled into habits of hard work, self-reliance, and intelligence. These boys would also recognize girls as near-equal partners at a time when marriage norms were becoming more companionate. Rural bullies and ethnic villains, by contrast, provide warnings about boys who do not develop manly self-control. Girls’ series helped shape how modern girls thought about their male peers, including what girls would and would not accept in their relationships with boys.
l’art d’accommoder l’histoire et la géographie
Rachid Sidi Boumedine
Pour les touristes, la cuisine de l’Algérie n’est pas codifiée comme celle des autres pays voisins. Conscient de la variation climatique et la diversité des productions agro-pastorales, ainsi que de l’histoire du contact avec les anciennes civilisations de Rome à Ottomane, Abbasside, Perse et Andalus l’auteur montre l’importance et la richesse de la nourriture. Dans les milieux urbains, les aliments des migrants rappellent leurs origines. Des plats comme «dolma» et «kefta», des sauces de tomate ou l’utilisation du cumin en sont témoins et l’auteur souligne bien les relations historiques et toutes les adaptations locales. Un autre sujet abordé par l’auteur c’est l’ordre et la manière de la présentation des repas, différents selon les situations : une fête, une occasion particulière ou bien un repas quotidien et de tous les jours. Autrement dit, les repas sont considérés comme un cadeau impliquant un rituel ou une continuation des relations. La nourriture identifie les classes sociales et explique les relations entre les gens. Elle n’est pas donc la simple compilation d’ingrédients, mais une donne culturelle ayant une identité à la fois sociale, économique et historique explorée historiquement par l’auteur.
Rationalization and the White-Collar Worker in Sasha Stone’s “Hundred-Horsepower Office”
This article examines Sasha’s Stone’s photographic constructions of the salaried worker, or die Angestellten, within the rationalized Weimar office as published in his 1926 photo essay “Das 100-Pferdige Büro—keine Utopie” (The hundred-horsepower office—no utopia). I analyze his images of the modern office and the white-collar employee as participating in the public discourse regarding the highly debated phenomenon of rationalization, presenting the Angestellter as a tool of rationalization rather than an individual, creating automata-like employees that fit with the broader trend of depicting such employees as what Matthew Biro describes as cyborgs, or human-machine hybrids. I assert that Stone’s essay performs a dialectic role in relation to other, distinct versions of the same photographs, suggesting that technology within the sphere of the modern office, while inevitable and necessary, is possible only through the subjugation of the individual humanity of those at work by such technology.
Ken Parille, Kenneth Kidd, Jay Mechling, Victoria Cann, and Edward W. Morris
Reading Characters, People, and Properties
In this piece, I reflect on superhero comic books I read in my childhood and adolescence, noting that as I collected and read stories featuring the character known as the Silver Surfer, I slowly began to realize that the character’s traits, as established in the first comic in which he appeared, seemed to change in comics published later. In searching for explanations for these changes, I began to pay attention to a comic’s credits, recognizing that different writers and artists understood the character in different ways and often felt no obligation to maintain a consistent approach. I eventually realized that a comic’s credits sometimes misrepresented the labor invested by each of the story’s creators. This long process led to an ongoing interest—in both my writing and teaching—in the ways that our interpretation of a story and its characters can be enriched by understanding the conditions under which it was produced.
Books of the Heart
What might reflecting on favorite books from our childhood tell us about our past and current selves? This short meditation on that question first considers reading memoirs and experiments in rereading, and then reviews some favorite books from the author’s own childhood, speculating on their appeal and potential significance for identity consolidation.
The Fantasy of the Boy Scout Handbook
Born and raised in Miami Beach, Florida, I opened my new Boy Scouts of America Handbook for Boys in the summer of 1956, at age 11, in anticipation of moving from the Cub Scouts to the Boy Scouts that fall. I found in those pages a fantasy that moved me deeply, a romantic fantasy of hiking and camping in the wilderness with a band of boy buddies. That fantasy has deep roots in fiction for boys and in books like the Handbook, appealing to the boy’s desire to escape the surveillance and control of adults and to fashion a community of “lost boys” in a wilderness setting ideal for strong male bonding in friendship.
“I Never Had Any Friends Later on Like the Ones I Had When I Was Twelve. Jesus, Does Anyone?”: Reflections on Learning about Boyhood through Stand by Me
This piece offers reflections on the 1986 movie Stand by Me, drawing on some of the main themes and contextualizing them in relation to my own childhood as a girl growing up in the 1990s. I reflect on how in my rewatch of the movie, I was struck by the ways that the class positions of the boys echoed my own experiences of transition and liberation through education. I also reflect on the significance of seeing boys cry and be scared—feelings that the boys at my school were policed out of performing in public.
Boy Genius: Reflections on Reading The Great Brain
Based on reflection and analysis of a formative childhood text, this essay disentangles the relationship between reading, intelligence, and masculinity. The author argues that although reading fiction appears to encourage empathy, books written specifically for boys may contain detrimental messages about masculinity. The analysis reveals that the popular Great Brain series reinforces notions of whiteness, ableism, and masculine superiority. These messages are reinforced by the books’ emphasis on pragmatic “genius” and the savior trope in boyhood.