November 13, 2018
One of the consequences of emphasizing plurality – so characteristic for current masculinity studies – is that the question of commonalities and similarities of masculinities has been neglected, and therefore the relationship between masculinity as a concept and its plural forms has to be rethought. One way of doing this involves conceiving of masculinity as having a largely discursive or narrative structure and focusing on the relationality and interdependency of masculinities by paying special attention to stories and genres as their paramount components. If one takes narrative to be an ontological condition of social life which exemplarily manifests itself in literature and the arts, it is precisely here that a plethora of narratives of masculinity becomes ‘visible’ in a reading process that can be conceptualized as an act of imagining and a process of transfer during which readers perpetually ‘stage’ themselves, while the performative function of narrative allows for a variety of new masculine gender identities that become available through their very conception in literature/art. Combining comparative masculinity studies with the concept of narrative paves the way for a new, more encompassing, relational and intersectional understanding, if not definition of masculinity.