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"A Place to Be Myself"

The Critical Role of Schools in Boys' Emotional Development

Michael Reichert, Joseph Nelson, Janet Heed, Roland Yang, and Wyatt Benson

Restrictions on boys’ capacities to process and to show emotion, however detrimental for their development, constitutes a key lesson of the masculinity curriculum learned in schools. To explore what schools can do to offer support for boys’ resistance to this curriculum, a series of studies has been conducted at a suburban independent school outside Philadelphia, PA. The present study uses a mixed-method design, including teachers, university-based researchers and students on the research team, to examine how boys’ participation in a peer counseling program influenced their sense of self and self-expression. A survey, focus groups, interviews, and observations supported the usefulness of the intervention for boys. The following qualitative themes emerged: (1) The constraining effect of the school’s masculinity culture on boys’ emotional development; (2) the value of a “safe space” in overcoming this culture and in promoting boys’ learning and connection; (3) boys’ ready development of new skills, especially in relation to emotional experiences, when invited to do so; (4) the deepening and broadening of boys’ friendships resulting from their self-disclosure and mutual support.

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Reproduction, Resistance and Hope

The Promise of Schooling for Boys

Michael C. Reichert and Joseph Nelson

Extended editorial introduction to a double special issue on boys and schooling. Adopting a developmental perspective on boyhood, the editors frame these special issues on boys' education by reviewing research on their experience of schooling. In particular, they endeavor to illuminate boys' agency and opportunities they can find in schools for resistance to restrictive masculine regimes.

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Miriam B. Raider-Roth, Marta Albert, Ingrid Bircann-Barkey, Eric Gidseg, and Terry Murray

How do teachers build an understanding of their relationships with the boys they teach? This article examines an inherent complexity in the teacher-boy relationship that is rooted in a fundamental relational tension: genuine learning requires the development and nurturing of trustworthy relationships, yet many boys are faced with a cultural mandate of separation from relationships, especially care-giving ones such as parents and teachers. One area in which boys’ negotiation of this paradox is visible is in the examination of some boys’ resistances to their teachers, the curriculum of school, and school culture. Through an action research qualitative, relational methodology, this article examines teachers’ understandings of this paradox. Participants were members of a Teaching Boys Study Group, a forum of teachers dedicated to studying teaching, gender and relationship. Findings of this study reveal that when participating teachers confronted boys’ resistances in school, they were engaging a critical intersection of their teaching identities, culture and relationship. Specifically, they confronted a relational paradox that challenged their sense of self as teacher and connections with the boys they taught.

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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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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.