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STEFAN HORLACHER

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More than just an Introduction to the contributions which make up this volume, this article argues that masculinity studies is a social necessity, points to the problems the construction of male gender identities seems to pose (not only) in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and stresses the outstanding contribution that literature can make with regard to male gender identity formation. Moreover, this contribution asks whether gender identity should not be seen as a potentially unstable, contradictory, and evolving cultural product akin to literature, whose medium, language, and chief “mode of operation”, that is, narration, it shares. The article also contends that in literary texts, we find both, self- as well as externally-determined or enforced configurations of masculinity as well as the very mechanisms of their production or enforcement.

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STEFAN HORLACHER

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Jude the Obscure is not only Thomas Hardy’s last but probably also his bleakest novel. Even the epigram on the frontispiece – “The letter killeth [but the spirit giveth life]” – can be read as having negative forebodings; it can, however, also be interpreted as a commentary on the “nature” of language and on the absolute necessity of understanding its founding mechanisms such as absence, difference and deferral if one is to lead a happy and meaningful life and if one endeavors to claim the freedom and the responsibility to construct one’s gender identity. This essay thus centers on the extent to which Hardy’s protagonist Jude Fawley, a man who desperately clings to the illusion of a transcendental signified, is able to understand and put into practice Hardy’s epigram when constructing his masculinity. Therefore, the focus of inquiry will be the hitherto largely neglected discursive construction of an ill-fated male gender identity in a discursive universe where “nobook-body did come, because nobody does” and where taking words literally has lethal consequences.

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Edited by Stefan Horlacher

Configuring Masculinity in Theory and Literary Practice combines a critical survey of the most current developments in the emergent field of Masculinity Studies with both a historical overview of how masculinity has been constructed within British Literature from the Middle Ages to the present and a special focus on developments in the 20th and 21st centuries.
The volume combines seminal articles on the most important concepts in Masculinity Studies by acknowledged experts such as Raewyn Connell, Todd Reeser, and Richard Collier with new and innovative analyses of key British literary texts combining Literary and Cultural Studies approaches with those currently deployed in Masculinity Studies, Gender Studies, Legal Studies, Postcolonial Studies as well as methodologies derived from sociology.
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Gender and Laughter

Comic Affirmation and Subversion in Traditional and Modern Media

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Edited by Gaby Pailer, Andreas Böhn, Stefan Horlacher and Ulrich Scheck

This essay collection is dedicated to intersections between gender theories and theories of laughter, humour, and comedy. It is based on the results of a three-year research programme, entitled “Gender – Laughter – Media” (2003-2006) and includes a series of investigations on traditional and modern media in western cultures from the 18th to the 20th century. A theoretical opening part is followed by four thematic sections that explore the multiple forms of irritating stereotypical gender perceptions; aspects of (post-)colonialism and multiculturalism; the comic impact of literary and media genres in different national cultures; as well as the different comic strategies in fictional, philosophical, artistic or real life communication. The volume presents a variety of new approaches to the overlaps between gender and laughter that have only barely been considered in groundbreaking research. It forms a valuable read for scholars of literary, theatre, media, and cultural studies, at the same time reaching out to a general readership.
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Gaby Pailer, Andreas Böhn, Stefan Horlacher and Ulrich Scheck

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Gaby Pailer, Andreas Böhn, Stefan Horlacher and Ulrich Scheck