Manipulating Masculinity: War and Gender in Modern British and American Literature

Paperback | May 15, 2010

byKathy J. Phillips

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Manipulating Masculinity uses literature from World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War, and the Iraq wars to argue that when a society labels certain human traits “feminine,” that society can more easily manipulate men to war. If a society convinces men that fighting is essentially manly, it entices men to war simply to prove their manliness. This book also looks at the ways Western cultural attitudes toward sex fuel wars by encouraging the displacement of sexuality into violence, by fostering titillation in combination with guilt and its accompanying need for self-punishment (which war abundantly supplies), and by defining sexual orientations so as to provoke self-doubt.

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Manipulating Masculinity uses literature from World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War, and the Iraq wars to argue that when a society labels certain human traits “feminine,” that society can more easily manipulate men to war. If a society convinces men that fighting is essentially manly, it entices men to war simply to prove their m...

Kathy J. Phillips is a Professor of English at the University of Hawai’i. She is the author of many books, including Virginia Woolf against Empire and The Moon in the Water: Reflections on an Aging Parent. She has published essays in such journals as Twentieth Century Literature, Journal of Modern Literature, and Strategies: Journal o...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.5 inPublished:May 15, 2010Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230623034

ISBN - 13:9780230623033

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Table of Contents

Introduction * Background: Sexuality and War * World War I: No Half-Men at the Front * World War II: No Lace on His Drawers * The Vietnam War: Out from Under Momma's Apron * Conclusion * Epilogue: The Wars against Iraq: Red Alert on Girly Boys * Works Cited

Editorial Reviews

"Impressive in its breadth, its easy style, and its close readings, this compact book is an asset to those of us who teach the literature of war.  Phillips’s command of her literature is impressive, her exposition readable and brisk."--Signs “The carnage of 20th century warfare left more than 100 million dead. But how was such patriotic gore orchestrated? How were men motivated to fight? With a panoramic sweep across the century and keen attention to detail in the literary works that emerged from these wars, Kathy Phillips takes the reader inside the mass mobilization of masculine anxiety, the cult of military masculinity in which ordinary guys desperately need to prove something extraordinary. Her careful and level-headed analysis parallels an increasingly urgent cri de coeur: ‘we've been had.’”--Michael Kimmel, Professor of Sociology, SUNY Stony Brook, Author of Manhood in America, Editor of Men and Masculinities  "Despite the gains of women, gays, and minorities, it would appear from Kathy Phillips' bracing study of war-making and gender that there is still a lot of work to be done."--Southern Humanities Review "Phillips draws on Michael Foucault in her deft analysis of artificial social constructs of gender, and she relies primarily on a wide variety of well-known imaginative literature--war novels, plays, poetry...her textual analysis remains careful and subtle throughout. This book offers thoughtful cultural context for considering contemporary warfare and gender construction."--Choice