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'Open secrets': Masculine subjectivity and other men's bodies in some late twentieth-century British poetry

Kennedy, David


David Kennedy


Stephen Heath has asked in 'Male Feminism', 'Do I write male? What does that mean?' Contemporary British poetry likes to imagine itself as ideologically innocent, particularly in terms of male subjectivity and masculinity. Masculinity becomes, therefore, something that is hidden in plain sight. This article argues that masculinity is often discussed through the discursive production of other men's bodies and talismanic objects; and examines this in the poetry of Simon Armitage, Michael Hofmann, and Andrew Motion. A man produces the bodies of other men and of boys discursively in order to energise himself for fully active participation in the economy of recognition and judgement, production and critique, on which masculinity relies. The production of these bodies and their subsequent identification in a continuum of 'not-me's' enables a man to judge where and how to perform his own masculinity. In the work of Hofmann and Motion, masculinity is seen as difficult patrimony; while in Armitage's poetry, discursive production itself and, consequently, masculinity are placed, as it were, in inverted commas (p. 169).


Kennedy, D. (2011). 'Open secrets': Masculine subjectivity and other men's bodies in some late twentieth-century British poetry. Textual Practice, 25(1), (87-107). doi:10.1080/0950236X.2011.537551. ISSN 0950-236X

Journal Article Type Review
Online Publication Date Jan 17, 2011
Publication Date Feb 1, 2011
Deposit Date Nov 13, 2014
Publicly Available Date
Journal Textual Practice
Print ISSN 0950-236X
Electronic ISSN 1470-1308
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Issue 1
Pages 87-107
Keywords Contemporary British poetry; Masculinity; Male Bodies; Men in literature; British Poetry Post-1945; Gender
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