Reference : In their Fathers' Footsteps: Performing Masculinity and Fatherhood in the Work of Les...
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In their Fathers' Footsteps: Performing Masculinity and Fatherhood in the Work of Les Murray and Michael Ondaatje
Burkitt, Katharine [Université de Liège - ULiège > Département des langues et littératures modernes > Département des langues et littératures modernes >]
Performing Masculinity
Emig, Rainer
Rowland, Antony
United Kingdom
[en] Masculinity ; Fatherhood ; Postcolonial Writing ; Michael Ondaatje ; Les Murray
[en] At the turn of the twentieth-century the portrayal of masculinity in a postcolonial context has become increasingly complex. As the remnants of empires, those most masculine of Victorian pursuits, lie decrepit, so the assurances of the old relationships are dispelled and complicated by new forms of globalisation and neo-colonisation. In this context, postcolonial masculinity, a term which is itself fraught with contention, has been figured in various ways: Saladin Chamcha, the cloven-hoofed monstrous colonial of Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses, the male-dominated violence of gang-land Rio de Janeiro in Fernando Meirelles' film City of God, the aged and sexually inert immigrant male in the later works of Hanif Kureishi, and the problematic return to an authentically historicised and indigenous male identity that Derek Walcott explores in Omeros. These examples, and many others, consider the difficulty involved in articulating a coherent and positive masculine identity in a world that is fractured and characterised by disparate social contexts that are related to colonialism. I will consider this difficulty in the work of Les Murray, an Australian poet whose exploration of masculine identity is inherently linked to his conceptualisation of national identity and Australia's fractious racial politics. In Murray's work postcolonial masculinity is a myth of empire-building hubris, or curtailed, victimised and essentially feminised. This is in contrast to the work of others, including the Sri Lankan/Canadian writer Michael Ondaatje, for whom some versions of postcolonial masculinity offer a potent spirituality which prevails optimistically against the bleakness of a fragmentary and brutal world. In my discussion of these writers, I will consider the implications of their representation of masculinity in a postcolonial context, and draw attention to the way in which the writers’ constructions of postcolonial masculinities which cross the borders of time, nation, gender and sexuality are deployed to represent the singularity of their own postcolonial experiences.
CEREP (Centre d'Enseignement et de Recherche en Etudes Postcoloniales)
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