Clint Eastwood and Issues of American Masculinity

Clint Eastwood and Issues of American Masculinity

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In this risk-taking book, a major feminist philosopher engages the work of the actor and director who has progressed from being the stereotypical man's man to pushing the boundaries of the very genres - the Western, the police thriller, the war or boxing movie - most associated with American masculinity. Cornell's highly appreciative encounter with the films directed by Clint Eastwood revolve around the questions what is it to be a good man? And what is it to be, not just an ethical person, but specifically an ethical man? Focusing on Eastwood as a director rather than as an actor or cultural icon, she studies Eastwood in relation to major philosophical and ethical themes that have been articulated in her own life's work. In her fresh and revealing readings of the films, Cornell takes up pressing issues of masculinity as it is caught up in the very definition of ideas of revenge, violence, moral repair, and justice. Eastwood grapples with this involvement of masculinity in and through many of the great symbols of American life, including cowboys, boxing, police dramas, and ultimately war-perhaps the single greatest symbol of what it means (or is supposed to mean) to be a man. Cornell discusses films from across Eastwood's career, from his directorial debut with Play Misty for Me to Million Dollar Baby. Cornell's book is not a traditional book of film criticism or a cinematographic biography. Rather, it is a work of social commentary and ethical philosophy. In a world in which we seem to be losing our grip on shared symbols, along with community itself, Eastwood's films work with the fragmented symbols that remain to us in order to engage masculinity with the most profound moral and ethical issues facing us today.

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  • Paperback | 232 pages
  • 149.86 x 226.06 x 15.24mm | 331.12g
  • Fordham University Press
  • New YorkUnited States
  • English
  • 0823230139
  • 9780823230136
  • 985,559

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"This is an ambitious, innovative project that seeks to bring together popular culture studies with political philosophy. Throughout there are many sparkling insights and provocative discussions that ramify far beyond Eastwood's work and invite a broader discussion of the ways in which gender might be thought in relation to democracy theory, law, and ethicality." - Sara Murphy, New York University "An exciting read, in which Eastwood's work and his personal struggle come alive for us, together with a rich layer of conceptual analysis that is equally vivid." - Jessica Benjamin, author of Like Subjects, Love Objects: Essays on Recognition and Sexual Difference"

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About Drucilla Cornell

DRUCILLA CORNELL is National Research Foundation Professor in Customary Law, Indigenous Ideals and the Dignity Jurisprudence at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and Professor of Political Science, Women's Studies, and Comparative Literature at Rutgers University. The most recent of her many books are Between Women and Generations: Legacies of Dignity, Defending Ideals: War, Democracy, and Political Struggles, and Moral Images of Freedom: A Future for Critical Theory.

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