This introductory article explains the aims of the interdisciplinary conference “Masculinity and the Other” held at Balliol College, Oxford, August 29-30, 2007, at which all of the papers comprising this special issue of Thymos: Journal of Boyhood Studies were first presented. It points out the prominence which the notions of the “boy” and boyhood and the life-cycle enjoyed at the conference and seeks more generally to suggest the benefits a more fully integrated discussion of these topics might bring to the fields of masculinity and gender studies.
Guest Editor's Introduction
New to Berghahn Journals in 2020: The Journal of Bodies, Sexualities, and Masculinities
Masculinity and Boyhood Constructions in the School-to-Prison Pipeline
Edward Fergus and Juwan Bennett
The conversation on the school-to-prison pipeline among boys of color is complex and involves understanding how the 4 C’s— classroom, cops, courts, and community— interface to create a pipeline. However, what has been underconceptualized is whether and how notions of masculinity and boyhood that emerge within these institutions may operate as an invisible connective tissue across these institutions. In other words, the manner in which the bodies of Black and Latino males are viewed, interacted with, and treated within these institutions provides a rationalizing frame for how the actions within institutions occur. In this special issue, we theorize that, to understand the ways in which the school-to-prison pipeline operates for boys of color, there needs to be theoretical exploration through empirical work of what notions of masculinity are promoted and detracted within these institutions during boyhood. This interdisciplinary special issue of Boyhood Studies provides a conceptual exploration of how male bodies of color are constructed within and across these institutions, e.g., suspensions (schools), arrests (police), sentencing (courts), and violence (communities) in order to establish the pipeline as concretized through “normative” or oppressive notions of masculinity and boyhood.
Graeme Smart and Amelia Yeates
The study of Victorian masculinities is now a burgeoning field. In 1995 an emphasis on pluralities was registered in titles such as Herbert Sussman’s Victorian Masculinities: Manhood and Masculine Poetics in Early Victorian Literature and Art and Joseph A. Kestner’s Masculinities in Victorian Painting. Ten years on, Martin A. Danahay’s Gender at Work in Victorian Culture: Literature, Art and Masculinity would still be concerned with the many and competing ways in which masculinity was represented in the nineteenth century. This is not the only task of writers on masculinity, however. In 1995 R.W. Connell noted: ‘To recognize more than one kind of masculinity is only a first step. We have to examine the relations between them. Further, we have to unpack the milieux of class and race and scrutinize the gender relations operating within them.’ Much recent work on masculinity does just that and the essays published here reflect this imperative.
Theorizing Boys’ Literacies and Boys’ Literatures in Contemporary Times
Garth Stahl and Cynthia Brock
This special issue of Boyhood Studies, entitled “Contemporary Boys’ Literacies and Boys’ Literatures,” is composed of international cutting-edge research focused on boys’ formal and informal literacy practices, boys’ engagements with a variety of texts, as well as gender-focused/gender-critical teaching practices in the literacy classroom. The articles interrogate how boys are positioned and how they position themselves within their acquisition of literacy skills. The research presented highlights the diversity and complexity of boys’ literacy practices. The scholars contend that how we define literacy is undergoing change alongside significant alterations to traditional cultural practices associated with boyhood. We see attention drawn to how these literacy practices operate in relation to the formation of boys’ masculinities in terms of how they do boyhood in contemporary times.
Autonomous Driving and the Transformation of Car Cultures
Jutta Weber and Fabian Kröger
This special section on “Degendering the Driver” explores how gender intervenes in the potential shift from a driver-centered to a driverless car culture. It focuses on representations of imagined futures—prototypes, media images, and popular discourses of driverless cars. Following the tradition of feminist cultural studies of technoscience, we ask in our introduction how these new techno-imaginaries of autonomous driving are gendered and racialized. We aim to explore if the future user of an autonomous car is gendered or degendered in the current media discourse. The four articles explore what kinds of images are used, what promises are made, and how the discourse about autonomous driving is influenced by gendered norms. Some authors emphasize that self-driving vehicles could encourage pluralized forms of masculinity. Nonetheless, all authors conclude that driverless cars alone will not degender the driver but rather encourage a multiplication of gendered and racialized technologies of mobility.
Paradigms of Honour in a Mediterranean Moral Economy
The ‘honour-shame syndrome’ is an anthropological model originally developed in the sixties to describe Mediterranean cultural unity. The model came under heavy criticism, producing a veritable ‘anti-Mediterraneanist’ backlash. There is, however, a renewed interest in the regional paradigm. This article attempts an analysis of concepts of ‘honour’ in Malta, contextualising it within the broader ethnographic and linguistic evidence from the region. The author argues that ‘honour’ is a salient moral concept, and in fact, Maltese has a rich and highly nuanced discourse of honour, which includes both sexualised and nonsexualised aspects. While the author criticises the simplistic ‘honour-shame syndrome’ paradigm, he argues that honour needs to be considered in its own right as an important key to analysing the contemporary Maltese moral economy as it engages with ‘modernity’.
Male West African Youth
Christian Ungruhe and James Esson
This article examines the present-day perception among boys and young men in West Africa that migration through football offers a way of achieving social standing and improving their life chances. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork among footballers in urban southern Ghana between 2010 and 2016, we argue that young people’s efforts to make it abroad and “become a somebody” through football is not merely an individual fantasy; it is rather a social negotiation of hope to overcome widespread social immobility in the region. It is this collective practice among a large cohort of young males—realistic or not—which qualifies conceptualizations of youth transitions such as waithood that dominate academic understanding of African youth today.
Introducing a Special Issue on Boyish Temporalities
Diederik F. Janssen
Pioneering cultural historian Johan Huizinga’s short chapter on puerilism, featured in his interwar essay In the Shadow of Tomorrow, famously highlighted what he considered the mutual “contamination of play and seriousness in modern life.” “Puerilism we shall call the attitude of a community whose behaviour is more immature than the state of its intellectual and critical faculties would warrant, which instead of making the boy into the man adapts its conduct to that of the adolescent age” (Huizinga, 1935 [1936, p. 170]). The puerilist condition degrades the serious to the superficial, true and ritual play to boundless childishness. It is a dangerous and decadent symptom, a “bastardization of culture,” a semi-seriousness and appetite for the sensational and the trivial appealing to obedient masses and small minds. Modern man becomes a slave to his comforts. “In his world full of wonders man is like a child in a fairy tale. He can travel through the air, speak to another hemisphere, have a continent delivered in his home by radio. He presses a button and life comes to him. Will such a life give him maturity?”
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).