Archive for the ‘literature’ Category

The Short Stories of Playboy and the Crisis of Masculinity

September 16, 2012 Comments off

The Short Stories of Playboy and the Crisis of Masculinity (PDF)
Source: Utrecht University

We look at the world through media. They bring us the news; they bring us entertainment, science, art. They influence the way we view the world. In a way, they influence who we are. This does not mean that they change a person from one day to the next, but they co-determine structures of thought. One specific area in which the role of media becomes clear is gender – perhaps best described as the culturally defined and self-defined aspects of one’s identity relating to being a ‘man,’ a ‘woman,’ or perhaps something else. Different media propagate ideal images of what it means to be a man or a woman, and in our daily lives these ideal images are not often questioned.

This observation lies at the foundation of this thesis. My initial plan was to examine the ways in which media (re-)present gender identity. In particular, I wanted to examine male gender identity. The first ensuing issue was that as a historian, the historicity of gender and media needs to be acknowledged. In other words, media and masculinities are fluid and change over time. The second issue was that ‘media’ was too wide a category. Since this thesis is of a limited scope, I needed to demarcate the research further.

Ultimately, I chose one case-study of a magazine in a specific historical context: Playboy in 1950s America. The American 1950s were interesting given the subject, since a lot of literature discusses some sort of perceived ‘crisis of masculinity’ – it was a time where historical developments caused tensions with contemporary male identities that required a re-thinking of masculinity. Playboy was perhaps one of the most iconic examples of this re-thinking. The magazine offered a specific masculine identity that reacted to the contemporary gender identity crisis.

In a way, a magazine is a patchwork: It consists of differing elements, from articles to pictorials to advertisements. In order to explore male identity in the magazine in more detail, I chose to highlight one element: short stories. One of the features in Playboy that appeared from its start in December 1953 were short works of fiction. Moreover, these appeared on a highly regular basis. Therefore, the short stories made for an ample amount of source material.

The goal of this thesis is thus to answer the following research question: “How do the short stories in Playboy Magazine (re-)present a male identity in the context of the American 1950s?”

“It is my life”: A Psychoanalytical and an Existentialist Study of People of Suicidal Tendencies in Modern and Contemporary American Suicide Drama

March 8, 2012 Comments off

“It is my life”: A Psychoanalytical and an Existentialist Study of People of Suicidal Tendencies in Modern and Contemporary American Suicide Drama (PDF)
Source: Studies in Literature and Language

This study presents a psychoanalytical and an existentialist investigation into people of suicidal tendencies in modern and contemporary American drama in the elated hope to probe deeper into the minds of such characters and reveal the causes behind developing such suicidal ideation, attempted suicides and completed suicides. Before committing or attempting to commit suicide characters of suicidal tendencies must have experienced many ordeals in their lives that have made them want to commit suicide. They feel or must have felt overloaded by the miserable conditions they find themselves entrapped in. Their suicidality is the culmination of long years of pent up frustration, hopelessness, powerlessness and helpless endurance. For them resorting to suicide seems inescapable to relieve them of the pain of daily living.

Reading About the Financial Crisis: A 21-Book Review

November 5, 2011 Comments off

Reading About the Financial Crisis: A 21-Book Review
Source: Social Science Research Network

The recent financial crisis has generated many distinct perspectives from various quarters. In this article, I review a diverse set of 21 books on the crisis, 11 written by academics, and 10 written by journalists and one former Treasury Secretary. No single narrative emerges from this broad and often contradictory collection of interpretations, but the sheer variety of conclusions is informative, and underscores the desperate need for the economics profession to establish a single set of facts from which more accurate inferences and narratives can be constructed.

Motherhood in African Literature and Culture

April 7, 2011 Comments off

Motherhood in African Literature and Culture
Source: CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture

In her article “Motherhood in African Literature and Culture” Remi Akujobi analyzes the place and the role of women in African Religion and tradition and also interrogates the place of Motherhood in the production, circulation and consumption of items in African tradition. Akujobi examines Motherhood as a sacred as well as a powerful spiritual component of the woman’s life. Emphasis is put on literary discourse where motherhood is a recurrent theme, where motherhood is also a lifelong commitment. The article particularly explores motherhood as a discourse in African women creative efforts. A key intention of the article is to explore their perceptions regarding themselves as mothers and the sense they make of their experiences of motherhood. The purpose is to interpret these from a feminist perspective and see whether or not the institution of “motherhood” can ultimately empower women to be visible in vital areas of human endeavours. The study appraises motherhood as both a concept and an institution.

+ Full Paper (PDF)

My Town: Writers on American Cities

February 9, 2011 Comments off

My Town: Writers on American Cities

Source:  U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Information Programs

My Town: Writers on American Cities features 12 American authors describing how the U.S. cities where they live contribute to their creativity. Pete Hamill offers a touching reminiscence of growing up in New York, Washington Post critic Jonathan Yardley introduces the reader to his hometown of Baltimore, and best-selling author Jonathan Kellerman describes “the sprawling, inchoate alternative-universe” that is Los Angeles. Also featured are portraits of Boston, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, New Orleans, Memphis, Miami, and Washington, D.C.


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