FROM ANGRY YOUNG SCHOLARSHIP BOY TO MALE ROLE MODEL: THE RISE OF THE WORKING-CLASS HERO

in Configuring Masculinity in Theory and Literary Practice
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“Working-Class Hero is something to be”, John Lennon sings, and he might mean: “at least something.” Thus it becomes understandable that the “original angry young men” Jimmy Porter (John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger) and Joe Lampton (John Braine’s Room at the Top) fall back on this mythologically charged mode of subcultural subject formation. And a closer look reveals that both are not only in a class, but also a gender conflict. Both of them produce themselves as typical working-class heroes, a subcultural male subject form that gains further influence through protagonists like Alan Sillitoe’s Arthur Seaton (in his bestselling Saturday Night and Sunday Morning). As a consequence, the working-class hero slowly but unstoppably steps out of the depths of his former realms into the light of social attention, becoming a male role-model to believe in, and thus becoming something to really be. In a modern or postmodern world of shifting identities, the working-class hero provides a very simple but effectively reaffirming mode of male identity formation; a mode of subject formation that, as we shall see, even gains global influence through one outstanding and very specific product of mass media representation: James Bond.

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