Pinks, Pansies, and Punks

Pinks, Pansies, and Punks : The Rhetoric of Masculinity in American Literary Culture

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From the author:There is one last issue that needs to be sorted out: I noticed the product description on Amazon has one error. The following sentence from the product description needs to be eliminated: "He examines the macho criticism that originated in the 1930s within the high modernist New York intellectual circle..." The reference to the "high modernist New York intellectual circle" is not accurate. It needs to be revised. Here is my revised version. Please enter the following new product description: "Pinks, Pansies, and Punks" charts the construction of masculinity within American literary culture from the 1930s to the 1970s. Penner documents the emergence of "macho criticism," and explores how debates about "hard" and "soft" masculinity influenced the class struggles of the 1930s, anti-communism in the 1940s and 1950s, and the clash between the Old Left and the New Left in the 1960s. By extending literary culture to include not just novels, plays, and poetry, but diaries, journals, manifestos, screenplays, and essays on psychology and sociology, Penner unveils the multiplicity of gender attitudes that emerge in each of the decades he addresses.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 318 pages
  • 137.16 x 213.36 x 25.4mm | 362.87g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 11 b&w illus.
  • 0253222516
  • 9780253222510
  • 1,314,797

Review quote

A nice addition to the steadily lengthening shelf of literary gender studies, this perceptive, well-researched volume explores the period of American history between the Depression and the sexual revolution. Stretching from Thornton Wilder's supposed effeteness of the 1930s to Eldridge Cleaver's revived machismo of the late 1960s, the period encompasses a surprisingly rich record of diverse and consistently contested masculinities. Penner (Univ. of Puerto Rico) notes that while economic, social and class concerns of the 1930s-40s gave way to the revolutions of second-wave feminism and gay liberation in the 1960s-70s, the politics of American masculinity oscillated somewhat predictably between stereotypical notions of hard-shell manliness and overly sensitive softness. Relying on the theoretical supports of feminism, psychoanalysis, and queer studies, the author surveys a vast landscape of eclectic literary achievement: from hypermasculine warrior myths, anticommunist crusades, and the New Critics to Gore Vidal, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Norman Mailer, and William S. Burroughs. For its ability to synthesize, organize, and complicate such a diverse slate of writers, Penner's study merits a long look. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. --Choice W. Edwards, Longwood University, July 2011 "Through exhaustive research and witty prose, Penner reveals that the stakes of modern American literary culture too often relied upon what could-and could not-count for an authentically masculine critique." -Scott Herring, Indiana University Bloomington "A nice addition to the steadily lengthening shelf of literary gender studies, this perceptive, well-researched volume... surveys a vast landscape of eclectic literary achievement: from hypermasculine warrior myths, anticommunist crusades, and the New Critics to Gore Vidal, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Norman Mailer, and William S. Burroughs... [this] study merits a long look. Summing Up: Highly recommended" -Choice, July 2011 "James Penner's book is an elegant and entertaining walk through the urban jungle of U.S. literary culture since the 1930s. It casts new light on famous texts, and reveals the multiple forms of textual masculinity, the pervasiveness of gender, and the paradoxical connections between hard and soft masculinities in U.S. public culture. A pleasure to read, this is a valuable contribution to both literary studies and gender analysis." -Raewyn Connell, author of Masculinities "With a literary fluid style and a pleasant wit, Penner steers the reader through five decades of fluctuating visions of masculinity, not only in novels and criticism, but also in various artistic endeavors and in 'cultured society' as a whole...[A]n invaluable book." -GRAAT "James Penner takes readers on a thrilling-and, at times, unnerving-grand tour of mid 20th-century masculinities, documenting the never-ending struggle between the hard, macho man and the soft, sensitive, artistic soul. Careening between Alfred Kinsey and Jack Kerouac, Tennessee Williams and Eldridge Cleaver, Penner surveys an extraordinary range of novels, films, plays, and criticism to demonstrate how deeply entrenched these opposing mythologies are in American culture." -David Savran, The Graduate Center, City University of New York "In compelling ways, Penner navigates through layered textual materials to show how multiple configurations of masculinity can and do co-exist... This book proves a very interesting study for those interested in Gender Studies, Cultural Studies, or Literary Criticism." -Women's Studies, Vol. 40:6 "Exhaustively researched and meticulously detailed, James Penner's [book] cuts an insightful swath through fifty years of 20th century macho literary criticism... Scholars, historians, and culture critics will have much to chew on here." - "Penner's study is an ambitious and provocative look at mid-century delineations of masculinity in American literary culture... [It] asks readers to reconsider and expand the horizons of their understanding of twentieth-century male identity, and to reflect on their critical efforts to fit writers, artists, and other critics into specific categories and definitions. In many ways, this is what makes it such a rich and potentially valuable a contribution not only to masculinity and gender studies, but to American literary and cultural studies as well." -College Literature "All in all it [Pinks, Pansies, and Punks] is a recommendable, as informative introduction to the American culture and Gendergeschichte [gender studies] of the middle twentieth century." - "Pinks, Pansies, and Punks offers an indispensable text that compellingly theorizes the significance of masculinity's role in literary culture and the twentieth-century social contexts that shaped-and were shaped by-it." -Twentieth Century Literatureshow more

About James Penner

James Penner is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Puerto Rico.show more

Table of contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction: A Short History of Macho Criticism1. "Healthy Nerves and Sturdy Physiques": Remaking the Male Body of Literary Culture in the 1930s2. Doughfaces, Eggheads, and Softies: Gendered Epithets and American Literary Culture in the 1940s3. Highbrows and Lowbrows: Squares, Beats, Hipsters, White Negroes, New Critics, and American Literary Culture in the 1950s4. Reforming the Hard Body: The Old Left, the Counterculture, and the Masculine Kulturkampf of the 1960s5. The Gender Upheavals of the Late 1960s and Early 1970s: The Black Panthers, Gay Liberation, and Radical FeminismEpilogue: The End of InnuendoNotesBibliographyIndexshow more

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