We’re excited to announce the publication of a new issue of Writing from Below! Drawing together masculinity studies and queer theory, and scholars both critical and creative, MASC interrogates alternative approaches to maleness, manliness, and masculinity.
This special issue of Writing from Below looks broadly at a range of political and theoretical positions within and across critiques of masculinity in contemporary gender studies and queer theory. We explore and interrogate queer and non-normative masculinities—the diversity of masculinities, the disruption of traditional hegemonic heterosexual masculinity, non-hegemonic masculinities, maleness and the masculine written and rewritten from below; reconfigurations of the expression or performance of masculinity as a biological, social, or cultural given.
- Urszula Dawkins’ “Field Work, Prospekt: Femme—Butch in the Arctic Landscape” draws parallels between desire for the butch and the liminal spaces of Europe’s remote north, exploring both the differences and the alignments that fire the femme-butch dynamic, an endlessly and pleasurably irresolvable tension complication relations between body, gender, and landscape.
- Willo Drummond’s poem “Moon Wrasse” interrogates the experience of trans-partners—in particular the experience of lesbian/bi/queer partners who now find their identity redefined, rewritten. How do you speak your experience of an emerging masculinity that is not your own?
- Anne Fox-Thomas’s essay “Waifs and Warrior Princesses” confronts issues of gender, heteronormativity, and female masculinities in the discourse of Western gym-based group fitness classes, seeking to understand if and how such gym cultures may serve as sites for troubling gender norms—remaking gender in wider, wilder, more livable ways.
- Nikolas Dickerson’s evocative auto-ethnographic contribution “Skating While Black” illuminates how the sport of hockey can work to (re)construct understandings of race and masculinity, carving out the ways he is read as a black male within the space of hockey, while at the same time re-constructing his own identity as a black male through the writing process.
- Kate Rose Hanzalik’s dramatic essay “David Foster Wallace’s Disappearance” interrogates the takeover of disciplinary power: set within Foucault’s revision of the Benthamite panopticon via Foucault, the piece maps the agency of a fictionalised Wallace forced to perform the role of a docile body, and questions how and to what extent authoring might function as a means of escape or reclamation of power.
- Ross Watkins’ short story “Moments of a Limited Kind” explores expressions of masculinity, particularly in relation to fatherhood
- Joshua Smith’s poem “Lines Composed on a Downtown Jazz Bar in Chicago; 3.25.2015, Time Unknown” expresses the emotional and intellectual state of the writer as he processes the sensations of jazz, and attempts to understand the relationship between fathers and sons, biological or not.
- Oren Segal’s essay “House of Bondage” situates Yossi Avni’s 1998 novella Hahakham (The Wise) as one of the first examples of homonationalism in Israeli culture. By interrogating its normalising homonormative agenda, Segal shows how the novella problematically advocates a return to the old Zionist ethno-territorial principle opposed to the growing popularity of pro-diasporic discourse at the time, and reinforces existing discriminatory discourses that limit the political and rhetorical strategies available to marginalized LGBTIQ subjects.
- Arjun Rajhkowa’s extensive essay “Cultural Critique after Nirbhaya” interrogates three aspects of mainstream Indian and international media commentary surrounding a 2012 Delhi rape case. Rajhkowa’s piece explores the different ways in which print and online media in India addressed links between masculinity, culture, misogyny, and violence against women; foreign media commentary on the case, and the fissures and conflicts that emerged therein; and the diffidence and antagonism in Indian politicians’ and media commentators’ criticisms of the BBC documentary India’s Daughter. All these elements demonstrate the usefulness of such critique, and the importance of contending with a social problem in all its complexity, without undermining productive modes of analysis.
- Finally, incorporating a ficto-critical play script, Jack Migdalek’s essay “Testosterone Kisses” examines representations of male-to-male non-violent physical contact. With reference to kisses that are performed and projected in mainstream media, Migdalek raises questions concerning differences between socially acceptable and taboo behaviours for straight and gay individuals who present as being male, and considers ways in which embodiment between individuals which transgresses norms of behaviour—in media, and in the everyday—might come to be accepted as unproblematic.