Routledge Companion to Masculinity in American Literature and Culture

deadline for submissions: 
November 15, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Lydia R. Cooper & Joanna Conings - Creighton University

Masculinity—that hard to define notion of “being a man” or “acting like a man”—is largely understood through cultural expectations and images of masculine performance. Masculinity can seem nebulous, but literary and popular cultural representations of the idea help to solidify it both as a concept and as an identity. Westerns, noir, thrillers, war narratives, working class narratives, and even apocalyptic films and novels have shaped our definitions not only of what it means to be a man, or to be masculine, but indeed what it means to be American. 


Perhaps at no time in American history has it been more critical to examine masculinity in literature and culture. Recently, the U.S. has seen a rise in misogynistic and race-based violence perpetrated by men expressing a sense of grievance, from “incels” to alt-right activists. The existential “threat” to masculinity, in an era in which women and other gender minorities remain severely under-represented in U.S. Congress (at 24% and 25% in the House and Senate respectively) and in which civil rights and bodily autonomy for women and gender minorities erode daily, can be difficult to comprehend. However, the study of masculinity in American literature and culture offers key insights and context for the existential threat posed by accountability movements such as #MeToo and increasing political representation of women and minorities. 


We think, for instance, of Dana Nelson’s National Manhoodand Michael S. Kimmel’s Angry White Men, which offer sociopolitical context for such movements; but so, too, do analyses of American literary and cultural artifacts, from James Fenimore Cooper’s The Leatherstocking Saga to Todd Phillips’ The Joker(2019). We are looking for examinations of significant texts ranging from “canonical” American literary pieces to video games, and from disciplinary methods ranging from sociology to psychology, from literary analyses to ecocritical approaches. This volume aims to examine not just what American masculinity means and may mean in the future: it will also examine the consequences of representations of masculinity, what new ideas of masculinity are emerging, and the possibilities of representation in the new century. We plan to craft a substantial and masterful volume on American masculinity with a focus on new and emerging challenges to and opportunities in our understanding of American masculinity, aiming at academic libraries and researchers for its audience. 


We invite abstracts for chapters that explore American masculinity as it is represented, performed, critiqued, or challenged in significant literary and/or cultural texts. We especially welcome abstracts that address any of the following themes: 


  • Masculinity in the digital age
  • Masculinity and marketing/advertisement 
  • Masculinity and white supremacy
  • Masculinity in gaming culture
  • Masculinity and the environment
  • Masculinity and fairy or folk tales (in American history/culture) 
  • Masculinity in relation to other genders
  • Intersectional masculinity
  • Masculinity and wealth or wealth inequality (with particular interest in the “self-made man” mythos of American culture) 
  • Masculinity and violence/gun culture
  • Masculinity and war
  • Masculinity in terms of region, or place
  • Masculinity and trauma
  • Masculinity and sports
  • Masculinity and the superhero franchises (topics could range from issues of commodification of masculinity to challenges to hegemonic masculinity) 


We are interested in a volume that emphasizes the voices of new as well as established scholars from communities or groups historically under-represented in higher education. Given the nature of this topic—masculinity—scholarship by and about trans, nonbinary, and queer masculinity is particularly welcomed. 


Please submit 250-300 word abstracts along with a brief biographical statement (100 words) to Dr. Lydia R. Cooper ( by October 31, 2019.