Man in crisis? Modern Masculinities as Image

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  • This event is jointly organised by the University of Potsdam, Institut für Künste und Medien and Ruhr University Bochum, Kunstgeschichtliches Institut and will take place in Potsdam, Germany May 16-18, 2013. You are kindly invited to participate and submit an abstract to the event entitled "Man in crisis? Modern Masculinities as Image".

    Conference Theme

    What does a modern man look like? A simple question the ever-growing number of men's fashion magazines and fashion guides, as revenues suggest, are trying to answer. There is no question, however, that the image of woman has undergone radical changes in recent years, but what about man in/as image? Images of masculinity circulating in the contemporary arts, in film and television are in need of critical analysis from a cultural-historical and gender-political perspective. Why is it, for example, that Jon Hamm, the actor who plays the suit-clad, savvy advertising strategist, Don Draper, in the US television series Mad Men, was christened GQ's International Man of the Year 2010? Is this the sign of a backlash that would do away with the feminized man of more recent times to reintroduce a traditional ideal of masculinity? Was the "new man" nothing more than a chimera?

    From the beginning, gender studies focused its attention on representations of "man." In the words of Irit Rogoff, their goal was to no longer leave "masculinity" as "the unarticulated" but to develop differentiated categories and tools for the analysis of the representation of "man" through interdisciplinary gender research. In the mid- to late 1990s, the impact of these efforts on the fields of cultural studies and art history was made visible in a series of publications examining a broad historical range of images of "man". Taking these findings as its point of departure, the conference will examine the visual representations of masculinity from 1900 to the present, as well as the artistic and socio-political strategies associated with these representations. Particular attention will be given to the notions of "hegemonic masculinity," the "masquerade of masculinity," and the "crisis of masculinity," concepts borrowed from sociology, literary studies and history, and the applicability of these concepts for the analysis of visual representations of masculinity. Submissions from a range of disciplines examining visual phenomena and concerned with the study of culture, such as art history, media and film studies, are especially desired, though contributions examining masculinity from the perspectives of gender theory are equally welcome. The publication of conference papers is planned.

    Conference Topics

    Contributions might address, but are not limited to, the following themes and questions:

    • What is the relationship between masculinity and Modernity and Postmodernity?
    • What is the dynamic between a visual history of masculinity and the critical junctures of the 20th century, e.g. 1900, 1918, 1933, 1945, 1968, 1989?
    • What function does the notion of "crisis" serve for the concept of masculinity in general and in the realm of modern art, in particular?
    • What forms of masculine creativity emerge in the course of the 20th century?
    • Which forms of self(re)presentation are available to male artists, in particular, at the close of the 20th century? What is the relationship of these forms to those means of self presentation employed by artists of the classical avant-garde?
    • What patterns are employed in visualizing the (nude) male body? What is its relationship to the female body? What role does age play?
    • Are we witnessing the progressive sexualization of the male body?
    • What role do men's associations, male friendships and male couples play within 20th century art history?
    • What models are available for connecting race/ethnicity to masculinity in a "post-colonial" world?
    • How does gender code the transfer of visual knowledge?
    • How does male homosexuality appear in the visual arts?
    • How are "classical" male roles (father, soldier, protector) employed and what meanings are ascribed to visual representations of these roles?
    • Are there new forms of the "manly hero"? What is the effect of modern forms of warfare on the image of the soldier and of soldierly masculinity, in general?
    • What is the role of clothing, especially work and leisure clothing, for the contemporary image of man?

    Please submit an abstract of not more than a page and a short biography by the 15th of September 2012 to: and

    starting: ending: 18.05.2013 Location: , Category:


    Conference START 18.05.2013 END

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