Masculinity Studies for an Age of Global Uncertainty
Convenors: Dr Connor Doak, Dr Bradley Stephens
- Masculinity Studies for an Age of Global Uncertainty brings together scholars at Bristol working on men and masculinity. Aiming for an interdisciplinary and transnational understanding of how masculinity functions, our workshop includes researchers from a wide range of disciplines—the humanities, social sciences, and the professional schools—as well as those researching the topic in many different parts of the world. The ‘global uncertainty’ in our title refers in part to the social, political and economic insecurities that have characterized the twenty-first century, and we are interested in how these changes are reshaping masculinity. While certain trends suggest a greater permissiveness towards multiple masculinities—such as legalization of same-sex marriage arguably legitimizing gay masculinities—the twenty-first century has also seen the rise of neo-traditionalism, seen, for instance, in Putin’s macho self-fashioning in Russia, or the emergence of the ‘retrosexual man’ here in the UK.
However, the workshop’s conception of ‘global uncertainty’ also refers to the ongoing difficulties in theorizing masculinity. Recent years have seen a shift from structuralist to poststructuralist paradigms for understanding masculinity. Scholars such as Todd Reeser have argued for a theory of masculinity that embraces performativity, play and paradox. However, it remains unclear how that would translate into a unified theory for understanding masculinity, or whether such an outcome is even possible or desirable after the poststructuralist turn. When Raewyn Connell, a leader in masculinity studies, visited Bristol in 2015, she emphasized the peculiar durability of masculinity, its ability to reproduce historically across time and to travel across political borders. She called on researchers to reaffirm their commitment to envisaging positive social transformation in this era of increased global inequality, as well as to explore how masculinity and its structures sustain themselves across time and space and ask why it proves so resistant to change. Our workshop provides an environment for UoB researchers to consider how we might take up some of those challenges collectively in our research.
- Masculinities in an Age of Global Uncertainty workshop took place on Thursday 30th June 2016.
While the first workshop allowed us to build internal connections, the second workshop provides an opportunity to liaise with prospective collaborators from Bath, Cardiff, and Exeter, our GW4 partner institutions. Speakers will include be Prof David Gillespie (Russian, Bath), Prof Henry French (History, Exeter), Dr Catherine O'Rawe (Italian, Bristol), and Prof Jonathan Scourfield (Social Work, Cardiff). These speakers will not give traditional research talks, but rather talk about how they approach masculinity in their work. The idea to build a cross-disciplinary conversation and to identify key recurring questions in the field that we can perhaps tackle from multiple disciplinary perspectives. There will also be time to discuss a possible GW4 bid and the next steps for the workshop.
- Hard-Hitting? The Impact of Masculinity Research to be held on Wednesday 2 November 2016 2.15 pm to 3.30 pm, Verdon-Smith Room, Royal Fort House.
How can critical research on men and masculinity make a difference in the world? This workshop brings together researchers from various fields (arts and humanities, the social sciences and the professional schools) to discuss how different disciplines conceive of impact and to share stories of successful projects. How does the activist slant often found in masculinity studies—the desire to challenge hegemonic power structures and to reimagine gender—fit into the impact agenda of HEFCE and UK universities? Are existing notions of impact perhaps gendered themselves, and how? And how does the Stern report’s call for a ‘widening and deepening the notion of research impact’ to include ‘public engagement, culture and teaching’ open up new ways of defining impact within masculinity studies?
Speakers will include:
Dr Katharine Charsley (Sociology)
Prof Holly Furneaux (English, Cardiff)
Dr Bradley Stephens (French, Bristol)
Please register here if you plan to attend this event:
- Masculinity in the Curriculum to be held on Wednesday 30th November 2016, 2.15 - 5 pm, Verdon-Smith Room, Royal Fort House
Panel 1: Professor Terrell Carver (Political Theory, Bristol); Dr Patricia Neville (Oral and Dental Sciences, Bristol); Dr Finn Mackay (Sociology, UWE)
Panel 2: Dr Andrew Blades (English, Bristol); Mr Shuranjeet Takhar (Politics and International Relations, Bristol); Dr Margery Masterson (History, Bristol)
In Fall 2017, Stony Brook University in the USA will open an MA in Masculinity Studies, one of the first of its kind in the world, and another step in the codification of the field. However, few UK universities have individual modules dedicated to the critical study of masculinity, let alone an entire programme. Where, then, does masculinity figure in the university curriculum, explicitly and implicitly? How do different disciplines frame issues of masculinity for students? When is the classroom a space for reimagining masculinity, and when is it a site of recalcitrance and resistance? How can we, as educators, challenge our students, and how might our students challenge us? This workshop will include two panels featuring a range of speakers, all the way from Bristol undergraduates to the professoriate; they will share their own experiences and practices as well as ideas on how to transform the curriculum.
Please register here if you plan to attend this event: