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Metropolitan Masculinities:
Narratives of Gender and Urban Space

International Conference at Ruhr University Bochum
29-30 November 2019

Keynote: Jack Halberstam

Constructions of gender and space are interrelated and (re)produced within complex webs of socio-cultural and political power. This conference brings together critical studies of masculinities and metropolitan spaces and explores these complex interrelations and constructions from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century. It aims to shed light on (re)negotiations of different hegemonic and non-hegemonic discourses of metropolitan masculinities. We explore masculinities and urban spaces as they intersect with sexuality, race, class, ability, age, nationality and similar identity categories. Processes of urbanization have often been characterized by the consolidation of patriarchal, heteronormative white western middle-class relations of power. However, urban spaces have also posed challenges to and enabled reconfigurations of this order. Dominant, normative and complicit discourses of urban masculinities clash and interact with non-normative, marginalized, or resistant forms of discourses of masculinity.

We explore ways in which particular spaces within the metropolis have shaped and, in turn, have been shaped by the production, representation and performance of specific urban masculinities.

Who has been allowed and enabled to access what kinds of spaces? How have individual places influenced constructions and proliferations of specific masculinities, and how has this been (re)produced, facilitated and undermined by means of representation? How have discourses about metropolitan masculinities, including specific structures, bodies, embodiments and movements developed over time? What are the global and distinctly local components and varieties of urban masculinities, particularly in an era of global television, cinema and digital narratives? How have processes such as industrialization, consumer culture, and immigration shaped the contemporary plurality of urban masculinities? How can we account for calls for a return to more ‘traditional’ or ‘archaic’ varieties of masculinity, for instance through media representations that construct urban space as the ‘new frontier’ or connect urban masculinity to the populist political rhetoric of the far right?

Contributions from the fields of literary and cultural studies, gender studies, media studies, history, sociology, and related disciplines examine the discourses of metropolitan masculinities particularly as (re)produced in literature, film, television, digital / social media, art, drama / theatre, journalism, and material culture.