Bruce, Philip Shane
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This dissertation explores how changes occurring in the early twentieth century presented a variety of threats to the socio-cultural interpretation of maleness and masculinity, using the literary works of Thomas Mann, Christopher Isherwood, Djuna Barnes, and Virginia Woof. These threats caused a distinctive change in how masculinity could be regarded and portrayed, allowing for the consideration of a wider awareness of alternative masculinities, which had previously been disregarded. Hence, the general purpose of this work is to explore how literature written during this timeframe serves as an arena to express the tensions associated with the crises of hegemonic masculinity vis-à-vis these alternative forms. This dissertation examines four literary works from this historical moment in which the threats to the seemingly fixed concepts of masculinity and maleness are exposed. This work seeks to contribute to the scholarly discussion of masculinity, gender studies, and modernist literature by examining the rise of literary characters exhibiting forms of non-normative masculinity, a trend that becomes apparent around the turn of the twentieth century, when the seemingly traditional, heteronormative concept of masculinity begins to rupture. This investigation does not attempt to establish a definitive explanation of masculinities, but instead, uses the most commonly accepted characteristics of masculine behavior as its premise to examine those moments in early twentieth century literature where these notions of masculinity rupture and its characteristics dislodge from the traditionally masculine, male-sexed figure.