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Revisiting Style in Literary and Cultural Studies

Interdisciplinary Articulations

Edited By Jasmin Herrmann, Moritz Ingwersen, Björn Sonnenberg-Schrank and Olga Ludmila Tarapata

The collected volume brings together leading scholars from a broad range of disciplines in the humanities to interrogate the productivity of style as an element of cultural expression and a parameter of cultural analysis. Despite its ubiquity in examinations of artistic singularity or postulations of epochal patterns, style remains a notoriously elusive concept. Suspicious of monolithic definitions, the contributions assembled in this volume address style from a multiplicity of methodological and conceptual angles, drawing from fields that include literary studies, film and media studies, post-structuralist philosophy, philosophy of science, and American cultural studies.

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10 On Style: Gender, Boxing, and Masculinities in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Century


Translated by Björn Sonnenberg-Schrank and Moritz Ingwersen

Abstract: Masculinities are produced to reiterative practices, both discursively and corporeally. Sports have served as a dispositive that allows the production of masculinities. Boxing, and even more the act of talking and writing about boxing, I suggest, is such a practice. The article deals with the question of how boxing came to acquire and subsequently lose its status as a gender-constitutive practice in the United States. The plural “masculinities” refers to the fact that there is no single stable masculinity. Following Judith Butler, Jack Halberstam, and Raewyn Connell, masculinities are understood as incessantly constructed and thus fluid. Masculinities can be divided into forms that are hegemonic and less hegemonic forms. Nevertheless, non-hegemonic masculinities, as well, yield dividends that provide the carriers of this specific male performance with access to economic, symbolic, cultural, and educational capital that remains barred to women and minorities. Hegemonic masculinities are not necessarily a form of masculinity characterized by hyper-masculinity. For the first half of the twentieth century, boxers and their specific styles defined a form of non-hegemonic masculinity. This masculinity was defined more by the expression of raw force than by finesse and technical grace and reflected the work ethics of a predominantly blue-collar working class in the urban North and Midwest. With the advance of the third sector and office-related employment, the old rough-and-tumble masculinity was replaced by fighting styles that concentrated on subtlety and refinement. Boxers could “float like a butterfly...

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