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Anna Tarrant, Gareth Terry, Michael R.M. Ward, Sandy Ruxton, Martin Robb and Brigid Featherstone

This article considers the so-called war on boys through a critical examination of the way boys and young men have been represented in what might be termed the male role model discourse in policy and media debates in the UK. Critical engagement with academic literatures that explore the male role model response to what has become known as the problem of boys, predominantly in education and in welfare settings, reveals that contemporary policy solutions continue to be premised on outdated theoretical foundations that reflect simplistic understandings of gender and gender relations. In this article we advocate policy solutions that acknowledge the complexity and diversity of boys’ and young men’s experiences and that do not simplistically reduce their problems to the notion of a crisis in masculinity.

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“I Am Trying” to Perform Like an Ideal Boy

The Construction of Boyhood through Corporal Punishment and Educational Discipline in Taare Zameen Par

Natasha Anand

In this article I examine boyhood as presented through the figure of an eight year- old boy, Ishaan, in the Hindi film Taare Zameen Par (2007). In the current era of India’s globalization, how does the particular politics of hegemonic masculinity inform the very foundations underlying the family and school as punitive structures? By positing the analytical perspectives of childhood studies and the performativity of identity against Foucauldian inflected terminology, I argue that Ishaan enacts the dual role of both victim and agent in a film that mediates between two forms of harsh regulatory practices—corporal punishment and educational discipline. The climactic reorientation of an ideal boyhood gradually unfolds against the backdrop of the performances of other contrasting masculinities installed through the figures of the boy’s father, brother, fellow-students, and school-teachers. By drawing such interconnections, I see the film as contesting the ways in which domestic and academic institutions affect contemporary masculine subject formation.

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Rapping the Republic

Utopia, Critique, and Muslim Role Models in Secular France

Jeanette S. Jouili

This article examines the work and public reception of two, outspokenly Muslim, French rap artists. While both promote similar visions of a cosmopolitan French nation inclusive of its racial and religious (in particular Muslim) minorities, they express very different kinds of affective attachments to the French nation. I show that it is these affective attachments rather than their piety that explains their different reception within France?s media and political landscape. My claim in this article is that while secularity can be considered to be more lenient than often expected towards religion, it does not show the same flexibility towards the political commitments that go along. Thus, the legitimate secular subject, especially when of immigrant and Muslim background, must be loyal to the nation-state and display the corresponding affective structures.

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Back in Time Yet of His Time

Marty McFly as a 1980s Teenage Boy Role Model

Daniel Smith-Rowsey

In a world of overprotected, overscheduled children, parents look to the past, and even to Hollywood, for insight about how children were raised before minimal risk equated to serious hazard. The most recent corpus of films to feature minors who grew up without our current preoccupation with child safety was the somewhat well-established canon of 1980s teen films, but this canon tends to exclude the original Back to the Future film. While Back to the Future is hardly a neglected text, extant studies have elided its exploration and indeed exploitation of adolescent themes as well as its affinity with contemporary films about teenagerhood. I contend that when we look back for recent cues on coping through boyhood without so-called helicopter parents, and we consider the likes of Jeff Spicoli, Lloyd Dobler, and Ferris Bueller, we can find further valuable lessons by including Marty McFly.

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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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Cornelia Wilhelm

The German Rabbinate became a special role model for modern Judaism since the early nineteenth century and developed a unique capacity to negotiate and mediate group identity between group and society. Nazism destroyed German-Jewish life in central Europe, however the German Rabbinate continued to exist in refugee communities abroad, where it preserved its legacy. For the rabbinate and scholars of Judaism the United States was the most desired destination. The article will explore the conditions of the emigration process, resettlement of German refugee rabbis in the United States and explore how and where they found a place in American Judaism. It will also try to evaluate the impact this emigration has had on American Judaism and on American society.

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Judith Inggs

This article explores the development of girl characters in works for children and young adults during Perestroika. First, it examines established heroines from the Soviet era, such as Elli in Volkov's Volshebnik izumrudnogo goroda [The wizard of the emerald city], and then goes on to examine the depiction of female protagonists and characters in works written during the late 1980s and early 1990s. The conclusion is that although there was a clear demand for new heroines and a new role model for girls, writers did not succeed in providing strong, independent female characters with a sense of agency. Instead, the Soviet preference for male protagonists continued, with females often being portrayed stereotypically as weak and ineffectual.

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“Your Young Lesbian Sisters”

Queer Girls’ Voices in the Liberation Era

Amanda H. Littauer

Drawing on letters and essays written by teenage girls in the 1970s and early 1980s, and building on my historical research on same-sex desiring girls and girlhoods in the postwar United States, I ask how teenage girls in the 1970s and early 1980s pursued answers to questions about their feelings, practices, and identities and expressed their subjectivities as young lesbian feminists. These young writers, I argue, recognized that they benefitted from more resources and role models than did earlier generations, but they objected to what they saw as adult lesbians’ ageism, caution, and neglect. In reaching out to sympathetic straight and lesbian public figures and publications, girls found new ways to combat the persistent isolation and oppression faced by youth whose autonomy remained severely restricted by familial, educational, and legal structures.

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Torben Grodal

This article analyzes the psychological and neurological underpinnings of crime fiction and discusses the interrelation between cultural and biological-evolutionary determinants of fictions of detection. It argues that although crime fiction is a product of modern life conditions, it is also centrally fueled in the minds of viewers and readers by the mammalian dopamine seeking/wanting system developed for seeking out resources by foraging and hunting and important for focused mental and physical goal-directed activities. The article describes the way the working of the seeking system explains how crime fiction activates strong salience (in some respects similar to the effect of dopamine-drugs like cocaine, Ritalin, and amphetamine) and discusses the role of social intelligence in crime fiction. It further contrasts the unempathic classical detector fictions with two subtypes of crime fiction that blend seeking with other emotions: the hardboiled crime fiction that blends detection with action and hot emotions like anger and bonding, and the moral crime fiction that strongly evokes moral disgust and contempt, often in conjunction with detectors that perform hard to fake signals of moral commitment that make them role models for modern work ethics. The article is part of bio-cultural research that describes how biology and culture interact as argued in Grodal's Embodied Visions.

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Dieter K. Buse

Historians and political sciences have begun to discuss how and when postwar Germany overcame its authoritarian past and reestablished democracy and a tolerant civil society. This article argues that the national and regional Offices for Political Education have contributed significantly to the recivilizing process. The article provides the first preliminary academic attempt to outline the offices' historical background, their changing institutional structure, and their place in the civic education context since the mid 1950s. A series of case studies examine the historical literature disseminated by specific offices to illustrate the process of overcoming a problematic past and constructing new identities. In turn, the historical role models promoted by the offices, the manner in which federalism was presented, the timing of and fashion in which the Holocaust became a significant theme and the way in which regional identities were understood and fostered, are examined. These cases illustrate how historical information was employed, at first in fairly simple and propagandistic fashion, but always to inculcate democratic and civil norms. The question of the impact of the offices' work is left open, since research on reception has yet to be undertaken, but some evidence about their important contributions to reshaping German values is provided.