FSAC 2014 Panel: Masculinities and Contemporary American Cinema, May 27-29 at Brock University

full name / name of organization: 
Terrance McDonald / Brock University
contact email: 

FSAC 2014 - May 27-29 at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

Masculinities and Contemporary American Cinema:
Filmic Negotiations of Masculinity in Crisis

A debate continues across gender studies and its intersections with film studies in response to the crisis of masculinity, but, despite the overwhelming number of contributions to this debate, scholarship remains in a stalemate over the validity of this crisis. Rather than offer resolutions to this stalemate, this panel seeks to analyze the filmic negotiations of this crisis in contemporary American cinema in order to reframe the debate over legitimacy to focus on cinema's representation of this event, regardless of its validity. Canadian film scholars have put forth arguments that suggest the possibility of American cinema as reflecting masculinities in ongoing negotiations (Grant 2012) or in fluctuation (Gates 2010) as opposed to crisis. With an awareness of these alternative possibilities, the aim of this panel is to generate a discussion of filmic styles and narrative structures which signify contemporary American cinema's representation and mediation of social conflicts around masculinity. Whether considering how characteristics of what David Bordwell calls intensified continuity highlight the anxiety of male characters in Fight Club (1999) or how the arrangement of scenes in what Warren Buckland calls a puzzle film emphasizes the frustration of the protagonist in Memento (2000), what is at stake are masculinities beyond those constructed by American cinema through the crisis of masculinity narrative. The overall goal is to open new possibilities for film studies to respond to and analyze the effect of a perceived crisis of masculinity by reflecting on the production of idealized fictions, and the implications of this production, which popular cinema sells as a pleasurable solution to social and cultural issues.

Potential topics may include, but are not limited to:

- the relationship between spectacle and crisis
- how aspects of intensified continuity reflect or critique the notion of crisis
- methods used to represent an ongoing negotiation or fluctuation of masculinities
- how narrative structures, like the puzzle film, can mediate masculinity in crisis
- readings of individual auteurs' response to this crisis
- how conventions of genre highlight elements of crisis
- responses from modes outside of popular, Hollywood cinema

Please send an abstract (350 to 500 words), 6 bibliographic references, 4 relevant key words, and a brief research biography (100 words) to panel organizers Terrance McDonald (tmcdonald@brocku.ca) and Dr. Barry Keith Grant (bkgrant@brocku.ca) by December 1, 2013. Selections for the panel will be made by December 10, 2013. Paper proposals and inquires can be sent via email to tmcdonald@brocku.ca.