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Manufacturing masculinities; manufacturing history: masculinity, genre and social context in six anglophone novels of the South Wales valleys

Jenkins, John 2017. Manufacturing masculinities; manufacturing history: masculinity, genre and social context in six anglophone novels of the South Wales valleys. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis examines representations of Welsh masculinity in six South Wales anglophone novels: Gwyn Jones’s ‘Times Like These’ (1936), Lewis Jones’s ‘Cwmardy’ (1937), Menna Gallie’s ‘Strike for a Kingdom’ (1959), Ron Berry’s ‘So Long, Hector Bebb’ (1970), Roger Granelli’s ‘Dark Edge’ (1997), and Kit Habianic’s ‘Until Our Blood is Dry’ (2014). Understanding masculinity as a cultural construct, the following chapters analyse the interconnection between the patriarchal, industrialised social context from which such masculinities emerge, as well as the generic forms through which they are fictionally inscribed in these novels. This thesis applies a broad range of literary and gender theories to close readings of Welsh industrial fiction. Specifically, it draws extensively on R. W. Connell’s formulation of hegemonic masculinity, supplemented by the prominent work of Judith Butler, Michael Kimmel and others. Pierre Macherey and Raymond Williams inform much of the understanding of the interrelationship of culture and society. And the work of Stephen Knight, Katie Gramich and Dai Smith, among many others, has been vital to this study’s understanding of the broad field of Welsh fiction in English. Chapter One adapts Raymond Williams’s tripartite schema of ‘dominant’, ‘residual’ and ‘emergent’ energies in social process to read masculinities in ‘Times Like These’ as studies inflected through a historicised perspective. Focusing on the construction of the individual rather the politicising of the community in ‘Cwmardy’, Chapter Two examines how the coercive paradigms of patriarchal masculinity in the novel fragment both the debilitatingly sensitive Len Roberts and his physically robust, though emotionally suppressed father, Jim. Chapter Three examines how Menna Gallie’s whodunnit ‘Strike for a Kingdom’ manipulates a traditionally patriarchal sub-genre to feminise and infantilise Welsh miners, thereby challenging both the gendering and genre of earlier male-authored industrial novels. Chapter Four diverges from considering masculinity as a cultural construct to argue that in Ron Berry’s paean to ‘authentic’ masculinity, ‘So Long, Hector Bebb’, Hector is an intertextualised amalgam of heroic, mythical characteristics whose lineage extends back to antiquity. The final chapter analyses how, in ‘Dark Edge’ and ‘Until Our Blood is Dry’, the 1984-85 miners’ strike subjects Welsh masculinities to fundamental challenges of self identity when confronted by a radical government and a politically engaged feminism. Although the critical field devoted to studying masculine representations in the Valleys is expanding, it remains relatively small. With the passing of the mining industry and its associated signifiers like boxing, a whole tranche of Welsh literary history is threatened with elision from public consciousness, or incorporation into a mythical retrospective of stabilised masculinity predicated on unassailable patriarchal hegemony. As becomes apparent in the following chapters, a gendered reading of the texts exposes ‘masculinity’ as an elusive concept, as capable of incarcerating men in a patriarchal code of practice as of liberating them.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PB Modern European Languages > PB1001 Celtic languages and literature
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 24 November 2017
Last Modified: 28 Nov 2018 02:30

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