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«Wooden Man»?

Masculinities in the Work of J.M. Coetzee («Boyhood», «Youth» and «Summertime»)

by Daniel Matias (Author)
Monographs XVI, 214 Pages
Series: Masculinity Studies, Volume 7

Summary

This book addresses the representation of masculinities in the work of J. M. Coetzee, with a particular focus on the writer’s trilogy: Boyhood (1997), Youth (2002) and Summertime (2009). Provocatively dealing with questions of autobiography, Coetzee’s trilogy provides a panoramic view of a man’s development through various stages of life and, equally, different geographical locations, such as apartheid South Africa, sixties London and South Africa in the throes of democratic revolution.
Attentive to the masculine formations that the trilogy represents, this work draws on conceptual frameworks and methodologies provided by the joint critique of gender and postcolonial studies, and is particularly animated by the discussions raised by men’s studies, a field that is nowadays patently interested in postcolonial / transnational masculinities. In this vein, the work discusses not only aspects related to violence and gendered formations as they occur and manifest themselves in the intersections of the local and global, but also the possibilities of refashioning identities increasingly attentive to an ethics of Otherness, one of the staples of Coetzee’s writing.

Table Of Contents


Daniel Matias

“Wooden Man”?

Masculinities in the Work of J.M. Coetzee
(Boyhood, Youth and Summertime)

About the author

Daniel Matias holds a PhD in cultural studies from the New University of Lisbon. With a background in psychology, his research interests are located in the intersection of gender and postcolonial studies, with a focus on the formation of subjectivities and democratic masculinities. He works as a psychotherapist in private practice.

About the book

This book addresses the representation of masculinities in the work of J. M. Coetzee, with a particular focus on the writer’s trilogy: Boyhood (1997), Youth (2002) and Summertime (2009). Provocatively dealing with questions of autobiography, Coetzee’s trilogy provides a panoramic view of a man’s development through various stages of life and, equally, different geographical locations, such as apartheid South Africa, sixties London and South Africa in the throes of democratic revolution.

Attentive to the masculine formations that the trilogy represents, this work draws on conceptual frameworks and methodologies provided by the joint critique of gender and postcolonial studies, and is particularly animated by the discussions raised by men’s studies, a field that is nowadays patently interested in postcolonial / transnational masculinities. In this vein, the work discusses not only aspects related to violence and gendered formations as they occur and manifest themselves in the intersections of the local and global, but also the possibilities of refashioning identities increasingly attentive to an ethics of Otherness, one of the staples of Coetzee’s writing.

“The obvious strength of this book is in its authentic originality and the cutting-edge, complex, nuanced reading of Coetzee’s texts, which have never been explored in quite this way before, enabling Daniel Matias to situate yet complicate the performance of white masculinity across time and place. Matias is adept at combining knowledge of the finegrain and detailed particulars of textual interpretation with a broader concern with social and political dynamics, both nowadays essential for addressing the charged and volatile nature of gender belongings and identities, as they shift across time and place.” —Lynne Segal, Anniversary Professor of Psychology and Gender Studies in the Department of Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck College, University of London

“This is a rigorous, and magnificently argued, reading of J. M. Coetzee’s trilogy Scenes from Provincial Life. Drawing on a complex set of theories from post-colonial studies and gender studies to psychoanalysis and philosophy, backed up by a sustained and well-informed historical contextualisation, Matias provides us with a renewed approach to a fascinating and complex author and some of his works, that combines rigorous scholarship with a pleasurable and entertaining reading.” —Manuela Ribeiro Sanches, Centre for Comparative Studies, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Lisbon

“Daniel Matias provides a study that is highly innovative in many ways, the main one being that historical reality is understood as an integral part of scientific thinking, as it considers both the permanent and transformative aspects of time and space. The analysis of masculinities in Coetzee’s trilogy, as presented here, goes beyond the limitations of a simple case study pertaining to the post-colonial situation of South Africa; instead, it is an excellent acknowledgement of how a cultural outlook may provide an important recognition of the temporal dimensions and tensions of reality.” —Zília Osório de Castro, Full Professor (Jubilated) in History of Ideas; Director of the research unit Faces de Eva; Estudos sobre a Mulher and the Master’s Degree on Women’s Studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities of the New University of Lisbon

This eBook can be cited

This edition of the eBook can be cited. To enable this we have marked the start and end of a page. In cases where a word straddles a page break, the marker is placed inside the word at exactly the same position as in the physical book. This means that occasionally a word might be bifurcated by this marker.

Acknowledgements

The present book being an edited form of my Ph.D. thesis, I should, first of all, like to thank Professor Teresa Pinto Coelho, my main supervisor, whose intellectual rigour allowed me to consider academic inquiry in a different light, particularly on the myriad of possibilities of reading, of doing research, of understanding. Such gusto would, in large part, animate the present work, supporting me through the trials and tribulations that necessarily accompanied it, and for that I am immensely grateful.

I would also like to thank Professor Pedro Aires de Oliveira, co-supervisor, whose helpful guidance proved safe harbour amidst stormy seas. I have learned, with the care and the detail of the historian, to pay attention not only to the past but, perhaps mostly, to the future.

I would like to thank Amal Treacher Kabesh (University of Nottingham) for her insightful comments on an earlier version of this work. I should like to thank Lynne Segal and Stephen Frosh for their insightful comments, and many motivating discussions, in the time that I spent at the Psychosocial Studies Department at Birkbeck College, University of London. I should also like to thank Lisa Baraitser and Derek Hook for their ideas and opinions.

I should like to acknowledge the IHC—Instituto de História Contemporânea (Institute of Contemporary History) of the Faculty of Social Sciences←xi | xii→ and Humanities of the New University of Lisbon, for harbouring my research and providing me with an exciting, intellectually stimulating community.

I would like to thank José Armengol for involving me in the Masculinity Series at Peter Lang.

I should also like to thank the Portuguese funding institution FCT—Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia—for supporting the present work through a PhD scholarship (SFRH/BD/77855/2011).

I would like to thank Editorial Fundamentos for permission to reprint material from “Wooden Man?” Masculinities in the Work of J. M. Coetzee (Boyhood, Youth, and Summertime), first printed in I. D. Gimenez-Rico et al. (Eds.), Gender Studies: Transatlantic Visions (pp. 239–252). Madrid: Editorial Fundamentos, 2016.

Finally, I would like to thank my family. Without their continued support, none of this would be possible.←xii | xiii→

Foreword

“I am curious to see what the other women in this man’s life have told you… whether they too found this lover of theirs to be made of wood. Because, you know, that is what I think you should call your book: The Wooden Man.”

Although the (unreliable) biographer does not follow Adriana Nascimento’s advice in Summertime, Daniel Matias does. But he goes further. In his Wooden Man? Masculinities in the Work of J. M. Coetzee, he extends Coetzee’s (the character) Brazilian lover’s concept “wooden” to Boyhood and Youth showing how the three texts subvert hegemonic masculinity.

Details

Pages
XVI, 214
ISBN (PDF)
9781433138072
ISBN (ePUB)
9781433138089
ISBN (MOBI)
9781433138096
ISBN (Hardcover)
9781433138065
Language
English
Publication date
2017 (October)
Published
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2017. XVI, 214 pp.

Biographical notes

Daniel Matias (Author)

Daniel Matias holds a PhD in cultural studies from the New University of Lisbon. With a background in psychology, his research interests are located in the intersection of gender and postcolonial studies, with a focus on the formation of subjectivities and democratic masculinities. He works as a psychotherapist in private practice.

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