Defense Date

4-9-2018

Graduation Date

Spring 4-11-2018

Availability

One-year Embargo

Submission Type

dissertation

Degree Name

PhD

Department

English

School

McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Linda A. Kinnahan

Committee Member

Magali C. Michael

Committee Member

Thomas P. Kinnahan

Keywords

masculinity, American Dream, American Individualism, gender, American Exceptionalism, Tim O'Brien, Robert Lowell, Norman Mailer, second wave feminism, autobiography

Abstract

This study examines three autobiographical texts written in post-World War II America (1959-1973) that take as their subject a straight white man’s reflection on and engagement with the exercise of male power and the forces, both internal and external, that shape the degree to which he is “self-made,” i.e., an autonomous agent able to exert his will within a life domain (domestic, public, and war). Each of these writers engages in surveillance not solely of their own power, but also of the men who influence their experience, using their observations to critique, assert, and question the gendered realities and expectations that impact their perceptions of themselves and their experience. This dissertation considers each text through the lens of one national mythology—taking into account the impact of that strand of mythology on the performance of masculinity, including the entitlements these mythologies normalize and the deviancies (the Otherness) they contain and control. Finally, this analysis examines the intersection between genre and the representation of the self as a straight white man, identifying the ways in which genre interacts with and often magnifies the effects of each text.

Language

English

Available for download on Saturday, May 11, 2019

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