A Second Return

Hello… if anyone is still reading.

I haven’t posted in years, for a variety of reasons that are mostly boring; I’m not the best at blogging regularly anyway, and my academic interests drift in and out like ocean tides. In light of recent events and the accelerated cultural shifts in American society over the last few years, however, I decided that reflection upon the past is more important than ever. The study of history and the ways in which we construct and revise historical narratives is essential to understanding our own era. Right now, we are engaged in a number of battles over the past and its meaning. My goal as an archivist is always to unearth and give voice to the forgotten narratives and the ones that never quite fit into the supposed “zeitgeist.” I believe this work is extremely important now when so many in power are intent on revising history to their benefit and pushing such voices even further into silence.

One of my most-viewed posts is “Manly Men,” which examines American masculinity during periods when gender roles become more panicked and restrictive, more extreme, more destructive. I want to revisit this topic now in light of #metoo, of yet another mass shooting in which a young man gunned down his former classmates and teachers, just months after an angry old man opened fire in the deadliest mass shooting to date, of the bizarre resurrection of the Renaissance insult “cuckold.”

The current cultural climate presents an interesting intersection of conflicting themes, because alongside the resurgence of “rugged masculinity,” which tries to erase its performativity, we’re also experiencing an increase in social theatricality. Social performance is a constant, of course, but self-conscious performance has been the norm since the explosion of social media in the mid-2000s. In more recent years, these theatrics have expanded into other arenas of life that are typically held as “serious”: work and politics. Enter cultural panic. Similar to the early 19th century, this increase in diffuse, social theatricality has led to distrust and disgust towards performers and art, and fear of female performance (read: duplicity) in particular.

In my subsequent posts, I will return to my usual close-reading style, but after such a long absence, an explication of upcoming themes felt necessary. So, here’s to reviewing the past again, and hopefully, more frequently.


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