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A Dangerous Fiction

Subverting Hegemonic Masculinity through the Novels of Michael Chabon and Tom Wolfe

Louise Colbran

Masculinity is one of the key issues at stake in contemporary writing and gender studies. In their novels, Michael Chabon and Tom Wolfe both consistently make masculinity a prominent thematic and ideological concern. This study is the first full length scholarly work to take their work and their treatment of masculinity as its focus. How do these American authors critique the representation of masculinity within popular culture in Wonder Boys, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and Summerland, A Man in Full and The Bonfire of the Vanities? How do popular images of masculinity function for individual men and the way they experience their masculinities?
A Dangerous Fiction investigates the ways in which Chabon and Wolfe strip masculinity of any illusion of an essential nature and expose it as something highly culturally dependent and explains how these novels suggest to understand masculinity in the contemporary world.

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Acknowledgements 7 Introduction 9 CHAPTER ONE A Multiplicity of Selves: The Function of Authorial Celebrity and the Evaluation of the Author in the Novels of Chabon and Wolfe 23 CHAPTER TWO Playing at Being Men: Sport in Wolfe’s A Man in Full and The Bonfire of the Vanities and Chabon’s Summerland 65 CHAPTER THREE Not So Super-Men: Superheroes and Heroes in Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and Summerland and Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities 109 CHAPTER FOUR The Masculine Mystique: Contextualising Masculinity within Spiritual Discourse in Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and Summerland and Wolfe’s A Man in Full 149 CHAPTER FIVE A Grand Illusion: Hegemonic Masculinity as Escapism in the Novels of Chabon and Wolfe 195 Conclusion 241 Works Cited 245 Index 257

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