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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Evolution and emergence of the masculinities: Epiphanies and epiphenomena of the male athlete and dancer
by Demenkoff, John Haynes, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2014, 241; 3626049
Abstract (Summary)

To say that the masculinities are woven into the fabric of a pre-existing culture is not enough. One must go further and explore how culture itself is constituted by, or more precisely, constituted through the masculinities. As William Doty notes in his Myths of Masculinity (1993), culture not only produces but also is produced by stories. Ancient legends and sagas, like myths, are, to a large degree, perpetuated by the modern male dancer and athlete. However, as contemporary iterations of the masculinities, male athletes and dancers have evolved beyond the scope of myths and into new cultural forms. Their emergent story threads through this dissertation.

The masculinities represent a diverse array of possibilities and pluralities. What, then, holds them together as a coherent cultural force? This dissertation is, in large part, devoted to answering that question by way of a perspicuous inquiry conducted into a) the binarisms of gender, such as hetero-normativity and homophobia, b) the existential and archetypal nature of being, c) Cartesian mind-body dualities, and d) paradigms and practices of male athletes and dancers themselves.

In his The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), Thomas Kuhn used "paradigm" to explain historical shifts in the practice of the hard sciences. Subsequently, Michel Foucault, in The Order of Things (1966), appropriated the word in a hermeneutical analysis of the human sciences. It is his unique exegesis of the history of knowledge that is used to track the historical arc of the masculinities.

This dissertation ultimately moves beyond the perspectives of Kuhn and Foucault to the work of feminist Judith Butler. In Bodies That Matter (1993), Butler maintains that one's gender is a cultural construct and that the process of gendering, though performative, is largely unconscious. If gender and sex are mere social constructs, where does that leave the nascent logos of an athlete or dancer's body? A counter-argument is made that in order to be coherent, the masculinities must possess, at minimum, a mindful body in addition to an embodied mind.

Keywords: Masculinities; Dancer; Athlete; Body; Discipline; Gender; Hero; Archetype; Dasein.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Downing, Christine
Commitee: Doty, Williams G., Eisenstein, Zillah
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Mythological Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 75/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Philosophy of religion, Fine arts, Gender studies
Keywords: Athlete, Dancer, Dasein, Gender, Hero, Masculinities
Publication Number: 3626049
ISBN: 978-1-321-00573-8
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