Sympathy for the Devil: Volatile Masculinities in Recent German and American Literatures
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This study investigates how an ambivalence surrounding men and masculinity has been expressed and exploited in Pop literature since the late 1980s, focusing on works by German-speaking authors Christian Kracht and Benjamin Lebert and American author Bret Easton Ellis. I compare works from the United States with German and Swiss novels in order to reveal the scope - as well as the national particularities - of these troubled gender identities and what it means in the context of recent debates about a "crisis" in masculinity in Western societies. My comparative work will also highlight the ways in which these particular literatures and cultures intersect, invade, and influence each other.
In this examination, I demonstrate the complexity and success of the critical projects subsumed in the works of three authors too often underestimated by intellectual communities. At the same time, I reveal the very structure and language of these critical projects as a safe haven for "male fantasies" of gender difference and identity formation long relegated to the distant past, fantasies that continue to lurk within our cultural currencies.
Bret Easton Ellis
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