Sunday, March 24, 2013
5:00 - 7:00 pm
(Wake Forest University)
Volatile Masculinities in German and American Pop Literatures
From the 1960s to the present day, one viewpoint has occupied the center of the Pop movement and controlled Pop texts’ portrayals of cultural upheaval and disillusionment: the disturbed and damaged young man who ultimately enacts violence on himself or others in the process of self-discovery. This presentation will examine the “angry young man” as protagonist in German and American Pop fiction of the 1990s, in particular the early works of Swiss author Christian Kracht and American author Bret Easton Ellis. While both Kracht and Ellis are typically associated with Pop’s emphasis on surface and superficiality, this lecture argues that in fact this surface is constructed as a means of containing a chaotic and potentially destructive emotional force, which becomes a pervasive metaphor for contemporary masculinity, and thus the Pop novels in question systematically reinforce a pessimistic notion of what it means to be a man – and indeed, a human being – in the late 20th century.
Molly Knight is Visiting Assistant Professor of German at Wake Forest University. She is in the process of re-working her dissertation, Sympathy for the Devil: Volatile Masculinities in Recent German and American Literatures, as a monograph. Her teaching and research interests include 20th and 21st century German literature and film, gender studies, and horror film and fiction from the 18th century to the present day.