Armengol, Josep M.
Richard Ford and the Fiction of Masculinities
Foreword by Michael Kimmel
Year of Publication: 2010
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2010. XII, 138 pp.
ISBN 978-1-4331-1051-1 hardback (Hardcover)
ISBN 978-1-4331-1086-3 pb. (Softcover)
Weight: 0.400 kg, 0.882 lbs
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Richard Ford and the Fiction of Masculinities demonstrates how contemporary U.S. novelist Richard Ford, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for literature, rewrites gender, and in particular masculinity, from highly subversive and innovative perspectives. Josep M. Armengol analyzes the construction, as well as the de-construction, of masculinity in all of Ford's major fictional texts to date, ranging from A Piece of My Heart to The Sportswriter to The Lay of the Land. Given its simultaneous critique of traditional masculinity and its depiction of alternative models of being a man, Ford's fiction is shown to be particularly interesting from a men's studies perspective, which aims not only to undermine patriarchal masculinity but also to look for new, non-hierarchical, and more egalitarian models of being a man in contemporary U.S. culture and literature.
By framing Ford's contemporary representations of masculinity within a more general context of American literature, this book reveals how his texts continue along a trajectory of earlier American fiction while they also re-examine masculinity in new, more complex ways. Richard Ford and the Fiction of Masculinities contributes to the much-needed revision of men and masculinities in U. S. literature, and especially Richard Ford's fiction, where constructions of gender and masculinity remain, paradoxically enough, largely unexplored.
About the author(s)/editor(s)
The Author: Josep M. Armengol obtained his Ph.D. in English (with Honors) from the University of Barcelona, Spain, and is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Castile-La Mancha, Spain. A renowned masculinity scholar, he has lectured and published extensively on masculinity studies, especially on literary representations of masculinity, in prestigious academic journals such as Men and Masculinities and Journal of Men's Studies, among others. Armengol's latest books include Re/Presenting Men: Cultural and Literary Constructions of Masculinity in the U.S. (2008); Debating Masculinity (2009); and Men in Color: Racialized Masculinities in U.S. Literature and Cinema (forthcoming). He is working on a new book on masculinities in African American fiction.
«Josep M. Armengol represents the best of a new generation of literary critics, steeped in theory, but versed in the classical tools of literary excavation: close reading, textual analysis, and an understanding of genre. His work is theoretically informed rather than theory-driven, and in his skilled hands, Ford's work is not reduced to some thin meditation on masculinity but rather takes on added layers of meaning. What's more, Armengol represents the globalization of gender studies: a Spanish scholar, writing in English, discussing a major American novelist, by situating him within the specificity of American post-Vietnam culture and within specifically gendered discourses of that era. Looking at the work from both outside (as a cultural outsider himself) and inside (through the text itself), Armengol illuminates Ford's work in new and profound ways.» (Michael Kimmel, Professor of Sociology, Stony Brook University; Author of 'Manhood in America: A Cultural History '(1996) and' Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men '(2008))
«Josep M. Armengol intertwines his broad knowledge of literary criticism with a deep scholarly interest in gender theory, producing a text that provides innovative reflection on his own twin passions - literature and masculinity. The interest and originality of this book is the complexity and nuance that constitutes Armengol's probing analysis of Ford's style, characterization, language and plot, especially his focus on the ways in which the power and privileges attending men's habitual performances and identifications are at all times shadowed by and imbricated with the ever more insecure, fragile nature of contemporary 'masculinity.' ... Armengol provides a definitive overview of the depictions of gender relations, male bonding, and sexuality that pervade Ford's fiction.» (Lynne Segal, Anniversary Professor of Psychology and Gender Studies, School of Psychosocial Studies, Birkbeck College, University of London; Author of' Slow Motion: Changing Masculinities, Changing Men '(1990))
Modern American Literature: New Approaches. Vol. 57
General Editor: Yoshinobu Hakutani