New Fathers? Contemporary American Stories of Masculinity, Domesticity and Kinship

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9781443825542: New Fathers? Contemporary American Stories of Masculinity, Domesticity and Kinship

What do novels such Annie Proulx s The Shipping News, Michael Cunningham s A Home at the End of the World, and Jayne Anne Phillips MotherKind have in common with films such as Smoke and Mrs Doubtfire? This study explores the intersection of masculinity and domesticity in contemporary film and literature. It argues that these texts, produced since the 1990s, address with some urgency the notion of 'new fatherhood' in the United States. They offer explorations of the idea that American fatherhood around the turn of the twenty-first century is changing, and they problematize the legitimacy of 'new fathers' and 'alternative families' in a national culture where the 'old' patriarch and the nuclear family still often loom large in the imagination of many Americans.

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About the Author:

Helena Wahlström is Associate Professor of English at the Center for Gender Studies at Uppsala University. She has published Husbands, Lovers, and Dreamlovers: Masculinity and Female Desire in Women s Novels of the 1970s (1997), a feminist study of representations of men and masculinities in women s liberation novels. Other publications include articles on masculinity and gendered power relations in novels by John Irving, Caryl Phillips, Michael Cunningham and Gloria Naylor, on the relationship between masculinity studies and feminism, and on gender and genre. She is currently working on a collaborative book project provisionally titled 'Making Home: Orphanhood and Agency in Contemporary American Novels.'

Review:

'Helena Wahlström s New Fathers? Contemporary American Stories of Masculinity, Domesticity, and Kinship is a timely and astute critical analysis of key American fictions since the 1990s that deal with changing family structures and particularly with portraits of fathers in relation to their partners, their children, and their own fathers. Solidly placed in the contexts of popular rhetoric and scholarly masculinity studies, the book illuminates current anxieties in American culture about changing family structures and a supposed 'masculinity crisis.' . . . In 2000 Sally Robinson's Marked Men: White Masculinity in Crisis unpacked fictional representations of privileged men in American fiction. A decade later Wahlström s study updates feminist analysis of the ways that male and female authors envision new families and the men that inhabit them.' --Judith Kegan Gardiner, Professor of English and of Gender and Women s Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, editor of Masculinity Studies and Feminist Theory, and co-editor of Routledge s International Encyclopedia of Men and Masculinities

'The media has been proclaiming the 'new fatherhood' for decades. But how do we understand the relationship between masculinity and fathering? In this intriguing study, Helena Wahlström shows how changes among American fathers have been accompanied by images in film and novels that both describe and define the boundaries of the new fatherhood.'' --Michael Kimmel, Professor of Sociology, State U of New York, Stony Brook and author of Manhood in America and The Gendered Society

'New Fathers? offers an innovative and original analysis on active fatherhood . . . For students and scholars of both humanities and social sciences that are interested in family history, gender, fatherhood, and masculinities this is a must-read book.' --Jørgen Lorentzen, Professor in Gender Studies at the University of Oslo and author of Maskulinitet : blikk på mannen gjennom litteratur og film and co-editor of Män i Norden

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