Examining coming of age narratives and alternative masculinities in modern American literatures, this course begins in the late 19th century and moves through modernism to focus on contemporary iterations of masculinity by writers of color. Our objective is an understanding of familial relations and traditions that trace the meaning of masculinity in order to expand the possibilities of what it means to be a “man.” This course traces the responses to the entry of manifesting destinies as determinants of normative masculinity and seeks alternative inspiration by drawing on accounts and fictions by Native American as well other writers of color.
Issues include the sources of misogyny and forms of violence, enforced masculinity, traditions of two-spiritedness, and the healing power of homosociality. The questions that will guide our approach to the course readings include: What is the relationship between modernity and masculinity? What are alternatives to normative modern masculinity? Moreover, how does Native American literature as well as literature by other writers of color represent and negotiate the performance of masculinity? Authors include: John Rollin Ridge “Yellow Bird,” Ernest Hemingway, Leslie Marmon Silko, Louise Erdrich, James Baldwin, Maxine Hong Kingston, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Junot Diaz and others.