Saul Levmore and Martha C. Nussbaum (Eds.)
American Guy: Masculinity in American Law and Literature
Oxford University Press, New York, 2014, 352 pp
American Guy examines American norms of masculinity and their role in the law, bringing a range of methodological and disciplinary perspectives to the intersection of American gender, legal, and literary issues. The collection opens with a set of papers investigating "American Guys" - the heroic nonconformists and rugged individualists that populate much of American fiction. Diverse essays examine the manly men of Hemingway, Dreiser, and others, in their relation to the law, while also highlighting the underlying tensions that complicate this version of masculinity. A second set of papers examines "Outsiders" - men on the periphery of the American Guys who proclaim a different way of being male. These essays take up counter-traditions of masculinity ranging from gay male culture to Philip Roth's portrait of the Jewish lawyer. American Guy, a follow-up to Subversion and Sympathy, edited by Alison L. LaCroix and Martha Nussbaum, aims at reinvigorating the law-and-literature movement through original, cross-disciplinary insights. It embraces a variety of voices from both within and outside the academy, including several contributions from prominent judges. These contributions are particularly significant, not only as features unique to the field, but also for the light they throw on the federal bench. In the face of a large body of work studying judicial conduct as a function of rigid commitment to ideology, American Guy shows a side of the judiciary that is imaginatively engaged, aware of cultural trends, and reflective about the wider world and the role of the of law in it.
Part I: American Guys
I. Richard Posner, "Manhood in Hemingway"
2. William Alsup, "On the Trail with Melville: Law and Letters in the High Sierra"
3. J. Harvie Wilkinson, "Solitary Man in American Literature and Law"
4. Douglas Baird, "American Stoic"
5. Janice Rogers Brown, "No Balm in Gilead"
6. Robin West "Gatsby and Tort"
7. A. Howard Matz, "Struggles with Manhood in Angle of Repose"
8. Michael Warner, "Manning Up"
Part II: Outsiders
9. Martha C. Nussbaum, "Jewish Men, Jewish Lawyers: Roth's 'Eli, the Fanatic' and the Question of Jewish Masculinity in American Law"
10. David Halperin, "What is Gay Male Feminity?"
11. Saul Levmore, "Snitching, Whistleblowing, and Barn Burning: Loyalty in Law, Literature, and Sports"
12. Douglas P. Woodlock, "Bullies and Martyrs: John Dos Passos and Adventures of a Young Man"
13. Richard McAdams, "Empathy and Masculinity in To Kill a Mockingbird"
14. Julie C. Suk, "Fatherhood and Crime in James Baldwin's If Beale Street Could Talk"
15. Glenda Carpio, "Glimpses of a Man: Barack Obama's Autobiographical Reflections"
16. Paxton Jamail Williams, "The Indictment of the Law and Notions of Masculinity in Ossie Davis's Purlie Victorious"
Saul Levmore is Graham Distinguished Service Professor of Law, University of Chicago Law School.
Martha C. Nussbaum is Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, appointed in the Law School and Philosophy Department at the University of Chicago.
No debe queda sin mención la existencia de dos interesantes precedentes que completan, y creo que muy adecuadamente, la obra que ha sido objeto de reseña. Se trata de los trabajos de Erin A. Smith (Associate Professor, American Studies and Literature. School of Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Texas at Dallas) y Christopher Breu (Assistant professor of English at Illinois State University). El primero de ellos con relación a la detective novel de Dashiell Hammet o Raymond Chandler, y el segundo extendido además a Ernest Hemingway, Chester Himes y William Faulkner. Dos títulos, a mi parecer, sustanciales para formar un buen marco ideólogo de la ‘supermasculinidad’ norteamericana.
Dejo aquí la ficha bibliográfica de los mismos.
Erin A. Smith
Hard-Boiled: Working-Class Readers and Pulp Magazines, Temple University Press, Philadelphia 2000, 215 pp. Illus. ISBN: 9781566397698
In the 1920s a distinctively American detective fiction emerged from the pages of pulp magazines. The "hard-boiled" stories published in Black Mask, Dime Detective, Detective Fiction Weekly, and Clues featured a new kind of hero and soon challenged the popularity of the British mysteries that held readers in thrall on both sides of the Atlantic. In Hard-Boiled Erin A. Smith examines the culture that produced and supported this form of detective story through the 1940s.
Relying on pulp magazine advertising, the memoirs of writers and publishers, Depression-era studies of adult reading habits, social and labor history, Smith offers an innovative account of how these popular stories were generated and read. She shows that although the work of pulp fiction authors like Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Erle Stanley Gardner have become "classics" of popular culture, the hard-boiled genre was dominated by hack writers paid by the word, not self-styled artists. Pulp magazine editors and writers emphasized a gritty realism in the new genre. Unlike the highly rational and respectable British protagonists (Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, for instance), tough-talking American private eyes relied as much on their fists as their brains as they made their way through tangled plot lines.
Casting working-class readers of pulp fiction as "poachers," Smith argues that they understood these stories as parables about Taylorism, work and manhood; as guides to navigating consumer culture; as sites for managing anxieties about working women. Engaged in re-creating white, male privilege for the modern, heterosocial world, pulp detective fiction shaped readers into consumers by selling them what they wanted to hear—stories about manly artisan-heroes who resisted encroaching commodity culture and the female consumers who came with it. Commenting on the genre's staying power, Smith considers contemporary detective fiction by women, minority and gay and lesbian writers.
Hard-Boiled Masculinities, University of Minnesota Press, Chicago, Illinois, 2005, 256 pp. ISBN 97808166-4433-9.
The persona of the American male in the period between the two world wars was characterized by physical strength, emotional detachment, aggressive behavior, and an amoral worldview. This ideal of a hard-boiled masculinity can be seen in the pages and, even more vividly, on the covers of magazines such as Black Mask, which shifted from Victorian-influenced depictions of men in top hats and mustaches in the early 1920s to the portrayal of much more overtly violent and muscular men.
Looking closely at this transformation, Christopher Breu offers a complex account of how and why hard-boiled masculinity emerged during an unsettled time of increased urbanization and tenuous peace, and traces the changes in its cultural conception as it moved back and forth across the divide between high and low culture as well as the color line that bifurcated American society.
Examining the work of Ernest Hemingway, Dashiell Hammett, Chester Himes, and William Faulkner, as well as many lesser-known writers for the hypermasculine pulp magazines of the 1920s and 1930s, Breu illustrates how the tough male was a product of cultural fantasy, one that shored up gender and racial stereotypes as a way of lashing out at the destabilizing effects of capitalism and social transformation.