Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Father Nurtures Best: Neoliberal Melodrama of Beset Nurturing Fatherhood in the Late Twentieth Century
by Sekiguchi, Yohei, Ph.D., University of Hawai'i at Manoa, 2018, 226; 10977896
Abstract (Summary)

Offering the first sustained critical analysis of the cultural interaction between melodramas of the nurturing fatherhood and the emergent ideology of neoliberalism, my dissertation explores the representation of white middle-class fathers in late-twentieth-century American literature and movies.

The nurturing father is a poster child of neoliberalism: he is represented as an entrepreneur who individually manages his time and skills; taking care of kids is represented not as a tiresome drudgery but as a part of a white middle-class father’s self-investment which enhances his (children’s) human capital. The nurturing father’s pain and suffering are instrumental in understanding the cultural interaction between neoliberalism and melodrama. Echoing the anxiety that special rights given to groups are violating white middle-class men’s rights as individuals, the melodrama of the nurturing father implicitly contests the law’s protection of mothers as a gendered group and its intervention into private issues. Furthermore, the nurturing father is almost always represented as white middle-class with African American and/or working-class deadbeat fathers serving as counterpoints. By critically examining the significance of the freedom and self-government the white middle-class nurturing father embodies, this dissertation discusses how the melodrama of the nurturing father evokes and eases anxiety about a fatherless society.

While traditionally the American family’s morality was predicated on the mother’s sentimental and religious power to secure home as the place of comfort, an oasis from the ravages of capitalism, morality and innocence in the age of neoliberalism are marked by the father’s choice to nurture human capital and become an independent subject in the market economy. Untangling the intertwined relationship between home and the world, this dissertation analyzes the significance of nurturing fatherhood as a lifestyle choice and traces the contested negotiation between production and reproduction in the age of neoliberalism.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Sands, Kathleen
Commitee: Eagle, Jonna, Franklin, Cynthia, McDougall, Brandy Nālani, Yoshihara, Mari
School: University of Hawai'i at Manoa
Department: American Studies
School Location: United States -- Hawaii
Source: DAI-A 77/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: American studies, American literature, Individual & family studies, Film studies
Keywords: Entrepreneurship, Human capital, Melodrama, Neoliberalism, Nurturing father
Publication Number: 10977896
ISBN: 978-0-438-90468-2
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