Tekst je izvorno objavljen na Filološko-umetničkom fakultetu, Univerziteta u Kragujevcu, u okviru Međunarodnog projekta 178018: “Društvene nauke i savremena srpska književnost i kultura: nacionalni, regionalni, evropski i globalni okvir, pod pokroviteljstvom Ministarstva prosvete, obrazovanja i tehnološkog razvoja Republike Srbije, str. 367 – 383
Ljubica Vasić, PhD
The paper explores the possibility of transforming performance itself into a means of discovering the psychological world, people and efforts of modern men trying to free themselves of many forms of coercion of technological civilization and to resist its aggressive penetration into all spheres of life. The special focus is on a closer definition of key concepts – postmodernism as the cultural level, the American avant-garde as a movement that explores various aspects of individual and collective existence, along with the decoding the elements of identity and subjectivity, deconstructing the mechanisms of binary oppositions between public and private, male and female, passive and aggressive, self and other. The subject of the paper also includes the study of the concept of ideology as the basis of collective identity, and therefore of the crucial influence and design of individual identity, as well as the status of the contemporary American subject and its relation to its natural and social environment. Author of the paper draws the energy from the “loud, ideological silence” of post-Vietnam America. According to this, the process of demolition of myths will be explored, releasing free consciousness by looking at the essential truth which rejects its appearance, and in that way it returns the original values to man.
Key words: identity, ideology, man, masculinity, Vietnam War, theater, America, myth
During the ‘60s and ‘70s, American theater was embroidered with a rust of politics, and the performances, produced mainly in New York, were slowly turning to the prevalence of the written text, thus defying the strict connections between the audience and the actor, actor and the character, which were the characteristics of realism. Christopher Bigsby noted that these performance groups were revolutionary both in shape and content, often serving as a political valve in turbulent times, but also as a means to demolish the “fourth wall” of realism – that invisible wall dividing the scene from the audience – in order to instigate a more direct relationship between the performer and the observer (C. Bigsby 1998: 234). They reconsidered the idea of what the constitutive elements of the theater actually were.
According to Bigsby, until the ‘70s and ’80s, innovations in performance on the stage, influenced by political and cultural events on the world scene, that took place during the ‘60s, left a mark on the American theater because they these events induced the birth of anti-realistic drama so as to avoid all the clues of realistic illusions (C. Bigsby 1998: 235). Instead, and here Bigsby’s view coincides with the opinion of another influential critic, Martin Esslin, experimenting with the narrative form and deconstruction of the characters became an integral part of the drama that now belonged to the category of contemporary American (M. Esslin 1976: 101). These postmodern experiments tend to differ greatly, sometimes staying realistically oriented in terms of form, and again using completely anti-realistic elements to explore the complexity of contemporary social and political issues (M. Esslin 1976: 101).
And while the American theater investigated the boundaries between authenticity in behavior and role play in relation to identity and its elements that prevailed in the ‘70s and ’80s, Bigsby points out that they began to feel the effects of a very strong influence that one the most traumatic historical events have had on American culture and identity – the Vietnam War. It can be said that the Vietnam War is the most pressing revision in politics and the media, but the theater points to another key form of its revisionist mythology. In addition to helping illumination of the events that are primarily traumatic and completely foreign to human comprehension, the metaphor of war as a theatrical scene has had a huge social and psychological impact on the process of constituting identity during, and soon after the Vietnam War. Also, it creates a ground for examination of how the personal war experience is revived, and as such is transformed into art of the “psychological” dramas of the mentioned period (C. Bigsby 1998: 235). Politically colored performing processes were primarily inspired by the research of dominant social structures, and they illuminated language, values and assumptions about gender, ethnicity and social classes pre-conditioned by patriarchy. As they avoided creation of a theater that would just irritate the senseless illusions of everyday life, artists of this period directly addressed the audience through unconventional and sometimes controversial techniques in order to illuminate invisible structures that permeate identity, often, if not always, through politics (C. Bigsby 1998: 236).
Attention was paid to the examination of recent events on the American theatrical scene, which again bring us back to the question of what exactly is American identity. The American drama of the 21st century focuses on the continuous examination of national identity. This examination often relies on the oscillations in socially constructed identities, as well as on the concept of individual identity presented through politically determined theatrical characters. The contemporary American drama continues to explore important issues of today such as social justice, the complexity of the war and the significance of patriotism, human rights issues and collective responsibility. These new currents in the contemporary American theater emphasize the connection with theatrical innovations that have occurred over the past forty years, thus pointing to the continuity in the development of contemporary American drama at the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century.
As one of the features of postmodernism, Jameson also distinguishes nostalgia or passion for taking over the different styles of the past, which is most obvious in postmodern architectural eclecticism, popular literature and music. In English language, there is a very precise concept which describes the stage aspect of the public performance, which is called “theatricality”, although it carries many meanings, from a public appearance to a certain attitude, from a personal style to the whole system of characters, from media to message. An individual is no longer what they used to be; now, they are their own public images. The state, in a certain way, controls the individual and their behavior, in different aspects. There is a sharp dichotomy between what is being private or public, to the extent that it the public becomes more important than private. The concept of public was reflected in the state, while the concept of the private or the special was related to everything that was not referring to the state (F. Jameson 2005, 25 Previously, the performance studies, which include a broader notion of identity theory, and which, among other possible discursive issues, include the problems of identity theory, can also be supplemented. Based on the views of Michel Foucault, it can be said that human identity is represented in the body, because there is no clear and visible evidence of one’s identity except the body, only the body is visible. The body is at the same time the embodiment of the soul, but it is also its imprisonment, because it constantly constrains and endangers itself. Therefore, if the human identity is physical, then the basic questions about human existence are related to the body and the sense of touch, the vibration as the only evidence of sensible logos. The body is defined as palimpsest, as a bio-political body that, in its extreme form, represents itself as the threshold of absolute non-discrimination between law and fact, norm and biological life. The body is a place in which discourses and powers are imprinted, making it a hub or nexus for judicial relations and relations between powers. Thus, Foucault’s attitude that the body is being “constructed” implies that there is already some kind of body, a body that is predetermined and existential, convenient for becoming the space of its own idolatry (M. Fuko 1998: 55, prim. prev).
Obviously, post-structuralism paid attention to the body as the bearer of political and social meanings and changes. However, it is often talked about the symbolism of the body or about the attitudes towards the body or the discourses about the body, and not about how the bodies are differently constructed and how they behave. Although Foucault claims that the body is not stable and that it cannot serve as a common identity among individuals, neither interculturaly nor trans-historically, it nevertheless points to the persistence of cultural inscription as the only given, implicating that this inscription enjoys the universality of which the body is deprived of. Therefore, it can be said that for Foucault cultural values appear as a result of inscription on the body (M. Fuko 2006: 89, prim. prev.), and the body is regarded as a medium or as an empty page, but unusual one because it suffers pain under any changes. Such a description of the creation of cultural values produces the idea that the history is written by literature, while the body is a medium which needs to be transformed in order to enable the emergence of culture. Therefore, the question of pain is a key issue when it comes to identity (M. Esslin 1976, 90).
In contemporary society, aside from the problem of “theatricality of public life”, the theatricality of private life, or “theatricality of everyday life” should be investigated as an issue. If we observe the privacy according to the classical definitions of pre-modern and modern societies, as a place characterized by the absence of the others, deprivation of the relationships in modernity leads to extreme sequential forms of loneliness and isolation caused by mass society. On the other hand, what modern media and mass society are offering, are new ways of communication and new mechanisms for discovering of private space; therefore, the presentation does not imply the existence of the public in the classical, modernist sense. Due to the excessively articulated performing of this activity, it is not unusual that we are often inclined to say that playing a social or equivalent role is in fact a false representation. Martin Esslin says that the cultural performance is not aiming at the representation of something that is hidden, but at the existence in the public, at the process of self-identification and constitution, both the meaning of the subject and the person performing the role.
During the 60s and 70s of the 20th century, ideological terrorism dominated the countries of Western Europe. It had its root in ideological identity. It was the time of the “revolutionary leftist movement” in Western Europe, but also in the United States that fought against inequalities in society, the war in Vietnam, exploitation and domination over the Third World countries. The individuals have found their personal and collective identity in “anti-imperialism,” in the demand for greater social justice, the indication of economic exploitation and social inequality, in the demand for reforms in politics, culture and education. Revolutionary, left-wing energy turned in two directions. One led to the creation of numerous counter-cultural movements (hippies, punk, rock, pop, bit) and later of new social movements (student, feminist, peace), and the second one led to the creation of various ideological, “revolutionary” and “leftist” groups and movements. Michael Parenti writes that while ones demanded identity through alternative cultural flows, to be understood, respected and involved in society through non-violent means, respected, the others began to find their “leftist” and “revolutionary” identity through violence, demolition and killing, inspired by the ideas of Marxism and other revolutionary and communist ideas and movements; they required changes in society through the creation of fear and chaos (M. Parenti: 1993, 36).
The United States is the world leader in developing a conservative ideology. This ideology is based on the fundamental values of the family and the national interest. It is exactly the American theoreticians who have broadened the notion of national interest in contemporary politics, and today, thanks to them, we are talking about designing national interests in other geopolitical theaters, in order to establish ideological identity. So, the notion of nation and national interest is ideologically foreign to American political culture. Ideological terrorism is inspired not only by leftist and revolutionary ideas, but also by “right-wing” ideology, which marks gender inequality, intolerance to new cultural trends, opposition to abortion, ignoring poverty and social inequality, increasing arms, the difficult position of immigrants. “New right wing”, “moral majority” and terrorism are mutually encouraging themselves; they act according to the law of “connected vessels”. The right wing is blocking pluralism, tolerance and multiculturalism, it suspects on certain ideologies and religious movements that trigger terrorist actions aimed at defending identity.
The concept of “cultural identity”, misunderstood by members of certain social circles, is not at all harmless. From a social point of view, he is artificial. However, when viewed from a political perspective, we see that it endangers the most precious achievement of humanity: freedom. The concept of identity, except when applied only to individuals and nothing else, is inherently reductive and dehumanizing, it is an ideological abstraction derived from everything original and creative in a human being, everything that is imposed by inheritance, geography, or social pressure. The true identity stems from the ability of human beings to resist such pressures and to oppose the free actions they themselves invent.
On the other hand, the concept of “collective identity” is the ideological construct and the basis of nationalism. According to the opinion of many anthropologists, collective identity is not true even in the most archaic human communities. Practicing the same rituals and customs can be of great importance for the defense of a social group, but there is always a wide margin of initiative and creativity among the members of the group, and individual differences prevail over collective lines as soon as one begins to consider an individual as such rather than as a member who is a mere peripheral element of collectivity. Globalization is radically expanding and makes it possible for all citizens of this planet to have the opportunity to construct each of their personal cultural identities, by their own volition, in accordance with their preferences and intimate motivations. In this sense, globalization can be seen as a positive side of history because it seamlessly spreads the horizons of individual freedom, while on the other hand it stands for liberalism.
Forming of the masculinity
The first blow to liberal consensus was given by the human rights movement. Slotkin’s work helps in understanding the way in which America has altered the mythical and historical matrix of its national identity. Demonstrations, civil disobedience, prompted Johnson’s administration to form a National Commission for the prevention of violence, which submitted a report in June 1969. At that moment, many members of the academic circles began to pay more attention to anti-myth about America, which slowly led to the loss of national identity. Slotkin saw this report as another attempt to transform the myth with the aim of legitimizing the concealment of violence. The Commission’s attempt to reformulate mythic history was in fact the main cause of the breakdown in the national order. Other measures, such as movements for the protection of citizens’ rights, have led to the development of the ideology of multiculturalism, which, to this day, competes for the supremacy over liberal cosmopolitanism. And while Slotkin pays special attention to how the myth of the border affects American national ideology and history, little is said on how they all affect the formation of masculinity. According to one hypothesis, if identity achieves a change, then the concept of masculinity and gender achieves change in general.
Scientists Stephen V. Whitehead and Michael S. Kimmel significantly contributed to the development of sociology of masculinity. Pro-feminist oriented, supported by post-structuralism, postmodern perspectives, both accept the teaching of feminist discourse, seeing in it the potential for the development of masculinity. Pro-feminist oriented men perceive in feminism not only a change in the ethical imperative, but also a condition for this change to happen. In Whitehead’s extensive theory of the formation of a gender called Men and Masculinity, the categories of “men” and “women” exist, by definition, only in relation to one another. They are not conceptualized in their biological sense, but as political categories, merged into materialized and personal power (M. Parenti 1993: 15-16). The most important aspect of Whitehead’s work is his concept of masculinity and the concept of ontology of masculinity. Relying on the poststructuralist rule that no human being can exist outside the limits of discourse, Whitehead’s “concept of masculinity” contextualizes men within the various gender, cultural acknowledgements and truths that shape the lives of men (S. M. Whitehead 2002: 210).
The other concept is Whitehead’s concept of ontology of masculinity. This theory is based on the premise that the self is actually multiple, unstable and contingent, and on the fact that it leads to the existential crisis stemming from the suspicion of possession of a biological essence. For example, Deleuze describes Nietzsche’s “will for power” as the will of the individual to become the center of power that allows the body to transpose and connect, both spatially and temporally (S. M. Whitehead 2002: 211). Therefore, one can understand the effort to idealize and/or attain a unique masculinity as an illusion that arises from the interior of the being, while the narrative side of such an identity, conceptualized in a figure, such as a cowboy, is an illusory symbol of the integrity of the being (S. M. Whitehead 2002: 220).
Different male movements in the United States that include mythopoetic male movements, among others, share a common belief that there is an inner essence of masculinity, whether it was given by God or biologically conditioned, or inaccessible like an unconscious Jung’s archetype. Whitehead criticizes these movements because they are not entirely based on social sciences and remain deprived of the opinion of the academic circles. Whitehead and Kimmel agreed on many levels. Both noted that the need for the inner essence of masculinity stems from a deep existential crisis. This crisis is usually articulated through the rhetoric of the “masculinity crisis”, the cultural state caused by the above mentioned movements. One of the disadvantages of this “masculinity crisis” is that it generally refers to a unique, ahistorical masculinity, which is neither conditional, nor classical, nor ethnically, nor full. It usually refers to the hegemonic standard of the Caucasian, middle/upper-class heterosexuality. More problematic is a fact that such concept usually hides a political dimension. Whitehead writes: “The belief that something is “fundamentally wrong” in modern gender relations is sustainable only if the pre-natural state of affairs gives preference to the “unnatural” state of things (S. M. Whitehead 2002: 31). Such erroneous assumptions are undermined by historical evidence: as White and Kimmel have shown, echoes of the “crises of masculinity” can be heard in almost every generation of the 20th century. Moreover, Kimmel observes that “fantasies about the withdrawal of masculinity from feminism have been a key theme of American writers over the past two hundred years” (S. M. Whitehead 2002: 58). What Whitehead concludes is that there is no evidence of a masculinity crisis today, although it fails to provide a definition of how this situation looks right now. However, he acknowledges that moral panic over the state of contemporary American masculinity was induced by some political implications caused by militarism that drew its power from the Vietnam War.
Militarism is an ideology designed to create an enemy and impose such ideas on the “others” (R. A. Sullivan 1990, 111). The “other” was constructed as different, whereby the “other” was the basic catalyst, proved to be “less worthy”, that is, less valuable. Once, when the difference was made and accepted, the “other” must have been destroyed or it would destroy “us”. By dehumanizing the other and creating a sense of victim, the US authorities were able to convince people that war was an inevitable defense.
The very meaning of “masculinity” and of men was questioned and manipulated by the state, with the aim of retaining the power and state legitimacy of the army. Postmodern drama and the American avant-garde theater used this historic moment for the purpose of raising the awareness of the nation. On the other hand, the state has the burden to ensure that the process of militarization lasts and that men are ready to serve the army. Authorities have the task to “feed” the ego and the social construction of men. Men should believe that serving the military is their “chance of a lifetime” in order to prove socially constructed male attributes. In combat, they become warriors.
Nixon’s politics in the ‘60s proclaimed that militarism was equally important in both war and peace. Therefore, Parenti notes that militarism is probably more important before the war, because war cannot be conducted unless militarism had not been cultivated before the war even began. It is a form of structural violence imposed by the state, mainly through mass gatherings and media, controlled by the state (M. Parenti 1993: 99).
The driving force for reviewing the problems of the gender that shape the dramas of this period corresponds to feminist theory and to the rise of male studies that helps clarification of the confusion between the male story and the story “from culture”, as well as the clarification of confusion in the very meaning of the concept of “real” American man. Discussions on masculinity within what is called “male studies” have been encountering the masculinity crisis for the last two decades and have begun to address the problems of male psychology and male history. However, the recent crisis of masculinity did not emerge from nowhere, as just another answer to feminism. Male play writers have always been regarded as gender-based while their work is colored by their experiences as men.
Construction of masculinity
The unequal power between men (as groups) and women (as groups) reflects several factors – the fear of men from losing privileges, the fear of men for their masculinity and manhood, reactionary beliefs that are selectively drawn out of religion, the rigidity of institutions such as the army. Any of these “support” of inequalities can be questioned. Gender-aware men are crucial in the transition towards greater gender equality. Men are “keepers” who have access to resources, power, and skills that can be important for social change. Neo-liberalism played an important role in the construction of the gender, that is, in the construction of masculinity.
Whether we begin from the assumption that gender constructs have their foundation on certain social structures, then, logically, we can freely argue that neo-liberalism greatly influences the construction of the gender. There are many differentiations in society that are not related only to masculinity and femininity, but are also built within one sex/gender group – which is at the same time a central thought which demonstrates that differences between men, between women, and differences between men and women, that all of these differences get a new form on a daily basis (A. Arto 1992: 111, prim. prev.). This can be most clearly seen on the case of a body, a phenomenon that is actively and rapidly changing, due to the influence of neo-liberalism, especially when viewed in relation to the so-called golden years of capitalism and heavy industry, when a man had the task of presenting himself as strong, when he was supposed to play the role of a powerful subject.
Neo-liberalism, as a social construct that influenced changing the status of a middle- class in America, especially after the Vietnam War, is the dominant, masculine ideology that governs global relations. The mechanisms of discrimination are still virtually unchanged even nowadays, regardless of the paradigmatic changes that distinguish the modern and postmodern state. There has always been a tradition of criticism of the state, whether criticism came from leftists, Marxists, right-wingers, postmodernists – however, their criticism has always been directed at the state. Consequently, from today’s perspective, it could be said that the motivation which produced all these criticisms differs greatly from what has been achieved by criticism. Paradoxically, the criticism of the state has produced the opening of social pockets in which neo-liberal politics has been very cunningly entrenched. Also, it is very important to explain the views of the role of man and identity, which are defined together as masculinity (male identity). Namely, masculinity is manifested in different ways because of being a complex phenomenon. Masculinity is often associated with characteristics such as aggression, competition, domination, struggle, power, and control. These characteristics are the result of various combinations of biological, cultural and social influences, and are related to our understanding of power within the society. It is difficult to determine the impact of each of these factors on the existing gender inequality and violence. Much more important is the understanding that would lead to the creation of a framework through which the gender status quo could be achieved.
By focusing on masculinity, the concept of gender becomes visible and relevant to men. It makes men more aware of the gender. Thus, the gender becomes something that influences the lives of men (but also the lives of women), all of which represents the first step in finding gender inequalities, and even the elimination of violence against women. The effect of de-masculinity of power can be performed only if the traditional male role is endangered: the meaning of a man’s role in the family or other social communities. Consequently, a man could feel the reflex of his masculinity in various ways, for example: through irresponsible sexual behavior or domestic violence (P. Gleason 1930-1935: 62).
Masculinity determines the images, values, interests of activities that are important for the successfully achieving male maturity in American culture. That is what real men have, and what women and weak men are lacking of. The idealized American image of masculinity dominates the media, advertising and film industry, and this promotional set of related norms of behavior is forced upon – it pushes men to adjust; just as the norms that determine femininity compel women to do the same.
Today, one could observe that contemporary American literary works often portray a white male as a victim. If we ask why this is the case today, given that white men still have more power than any social group in America, David Savran’s book Taking It Like a Man: White Masculinity, Masochism, and Contemporary American Culture could provide some answers. The Savran’s book is the product of a five-year research of the core of masochism within the male self-representation. The title of the book announces Savran’s main preoccupation: why masculinity is not in the function of social or cultural skill, but rather refers to the state in which the individual is “subordinated, abused, and even tortured” (D. Savran 1998: 382). Unlike feminism, which men see as a natural and unobtrusive state, masculinity (especially in white men) implies an unceasing effort to satisfy the demands of what the idea of a white male really means. Savran’s arguments are supported by solid analyzes of various types of American fiction. Despite his discouragement when the American drama is concerned, Savran advocates the idea that the US theater is still the main cultural trend in the United States, including the definition of masculinity. Within a wide range of analyzed texts, it is determined by Living Theater as the focus of all the events.
Savran believes that American white men have lost their power sometime before the end of World War II, and that for this reason many have a reason to feel like victims. However, the main thesis is that they are actually being misled by their sense of loss. Instead of turning against the oppressive patriarchal system which they themselves created, men for their faults unfairly blame certain gender and minority groups that are just struggling for their rights. Savran’s main preoccupation comes down to the question of the failure of the radical idea of hipsters (white middle class youth generation) in the ‘50s, and that is why the white man was sacrificed. As a framework he uses the gender and cultural studies, supplemented by Freud’s psychoanalysis. Savran views his research as an attempt to use psychoanalysis for the benefit of the historical project (D. Savran 1998: 10), rejecting the ahistorical approach of Freud’s followers, such as cultural analyst Kaja Silverman. Use of psychoanalysis, Savran justifies on the basis of his belief that this science is the best tool for analyzing terms such as gender identification. Thus, the evolution of masculinity in the last few decades can be considered on the basis of how the identification concepts relate to the essence of the male psyche, according to Freud. Relying on Freud, Savran advocates the idea that “masochism works as a means of cultural reproduction which simultaneously reveals and conceals homoeroticism that permeates both patriarchal and male homosexual relations” (S. Jeffords 1994: 1).
His descriptions and interpretations of the mechanisms, which construct a white male as a victim, function at the same level. In addition to the tendency to insist on arguments that are already fully exploited, his book is exposed to the enormous influence that Savran’s combination of history and psychoanalysis has. His attitude is especially problematic when it comes to the period of the 70’s to the 90’s decades of the previous century. Perhaps he is right when he says that this period corresponds to the unique way of showing white male victims as central rather than marginalized figures. However, for example, Susan Jeffords made a clear distinction between the soft bodies of Carter’s era and the hard Reagan masculinity in her book Hard Bodies. Soft and hard bodies Savran sees as aspects of male self-sacrifice, but, of course, an American white man after the Cold War in 1999 could not be compared with the man who has just returned from the Vietnam War.
Sexual and physical abuse indicated an increase of patriarchal oppressors, or it simply justified the sacrifice of an abused white man particularly in the late ‘70s of the 20th century, in a period that coincided with the rise of a number of sacrificed men, according to Savran. This, in fact, justifies his use of psychoanalysis since men still struggle hardly to be men through parental figure, indicating that punishment is a justifiable means of disciplining. Notwithstanding the fact that Savran takes into account that sadism and masochism are constructs closely related through the definition of patriarchy, he somehow ignores the fact that the increasing number of cases of abuse over the last few decades has influenced the creation of an image of American masculinity in both real life and literature.
Savran offers imaginary political engagement as a solution for a white male figure. In his view, only “Marxist humanism can transform the material circumstances that actually created a masochistic masculinity” (D. Savran 1998: 292). Therefore, it turns out that the gender (and perhaps the race) is a tool in the service of the class. Savran’s view of a radical reconstruction of class and gender roles seems to require a revolution in creative imagination which leads to a real political change. The question arises as to how it can actually be done. The first step involves awareness of the fact that a change is needed. However, if the mechanism that gives men the power is sufficiently clear, then the mechanism that men make to voluntarily renounce some of their power without feeling radically deprived of that same power is still not fully understood. Perhaps it is completely utopian, even naive, to expect of one dominant group to give up their power. It takes a lot of courage for an individual to accept the fact that they are wrong, and maybe it is necessary to appeal to their willingness to “take this fact as a man” so as to convince various sacrificed men that masculinity draws its power out of itself.
From a historical point of view, the transformation of war experiences into the theatrical scenery should have the aim of bringing strange, creepy, war elements and war terminology closer to the wider public mindset.
The Metaphor of war as a theater had a huge social and psychological effect on the assumptions about identity during and soon after the Vietnam War. For soldiers, the possibility of perceiving themselves as actors playing roles apart from the innate systems of values and moral was in fact survival tactics. However, the psychological fragmentation created by this division between the real personality and the theatrical character created the need to portray a new image of the American identity that had to be constructed for veterans of the Vietnam War.
America, as a country that supposedly always reinvents itself, still remains bound to the rigid concept of masculinity. This concept is an integral part of American canonical literature. Men carry an enormous burden in American culture: in the stories of American writers, a man is portrayed as a hero fighting against a mighty and merciless opponent. This hero is “proven” by winning, or if he does not win then by not hesitating to face the challenges.
Theater-based masculinity also follows this template, thus offering readers/viewers a point of view from which to observe the cultural attitudes of the male gender structure. Perhaps because they wrote at a time in which traditional masculinity concepts are constantly discussed, it seems that masculinity has become more problematic in the works of contemporary authors. The work of contemporary American play writers offers an overview of the way in which masculinity is made and perceived in American society. The Vietnam War caused the most massive anti-war protests in the history, and many of them were led by Vietnam War veterans. American drama and theater from this period distinguish, in a thematic sense, the presentation of various forms of rebellion, and in formal sense they focus on the deviation from realism, always wanting to be reinvented.
Arto 1992: A. Arto, Pozorište i njegov dvojnik, Novi Sad: Prometej
Bigsby 1998: C. Bigsby, A Critical Introduction to 20th Century American Drama, Volume three, New York: Beyond Broadway
Esslin 1976: M. Esslin, An Anatomy of Drama, New York: Hill and Wang
Fuko 1998: M. Fuko, Arheologija znanja, Beograd: Plato
Fuko 2006: M. Fuko, Istorija seksualnosti 1, Loznica: Karpos
Gleason 1930-1935: P. Gleason, Journal of American History, New York: MacMillan
Jameson 2005: F. Jameson, Postmodernism or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, Duke University Press
Jeffords 1994: S. Jeffords, Hard Bodies, Hollywood Masculinity in the Reagan Era, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press
Parenti 1993: M. Parenti, Land of Idols: Political Mythology in America, St. Martin’s
Savran 1998: D. Savran, Taking It Like a Man: White Masculinity, Masochism and Contemporary American Culture, New Jersey: Princeton University Press
Sullivan 1990: R. A. Sullivan, The Legacy: The Vietnam War in the American Imagination, Boston: Beacon Press
Whitehead 2002: S. M. Whitehead, Men and Masculinities, Blackwell
U radu se istražuje mogućnost transformacije samog performansa kao sredstva otkrivawa psihološkog sveta, ljudi i napora modernih muškaraca koji pokušavaju da se oslobode mnogih oblika prisiletehnološke civilizacije i da se odupru agresivnom prodoru u sve sfere života. Rad se posebno fokusira na bliže definisanje ključnih koncepata – postmodernizma kao kulturnog nivoa, američke avangarde kao pokreta koji istražuje različite aspekte individualnog i kolektivnog postojanja, zajedno sa dekodiranjem elemenata identiteta i subjektiviteta, dekonstrukcijom mehanizma binarnih opozicija između javnog i privatnog, muškog i ženskog, pasivnog i agresivnog, sopstva i drugog. Predmet rada uključuje i proučavanje koncepta ideologije kao osnovne kolektivnog identeta, a time i ključnog uticaja na konstruisanje individualnog identiteta, kao i na status savremenog američkog sunjekta i njegovog odnosa prema društvenom okruženju. Energija uložena u izućavanje teme crpi se iy „glasne ideološke tišine“ post-vijetnamske Amerike. Prema tome, biće istražen proces rušenja mitova, oslobađajući tako slobodnu svest i osposobljavajući je da osmotri suštinsku istinu koja odbacuje njegov veštački konstrukt, na taj način vraćajući se na izvorne vrednosti čovekove.
Ključne reči: identitet, muškarac, muškost, rat u Vijetnamu, pozorište, Amerika, mit
Ljubica M. Vasić, Theatrical response to the Vietnam War – Construction of Masculinity in the post-Vietnam America, Filološko-umetnički fakultet, Univerzitet u Кragujevcu, Međunarodni projekat 178018: “Društvene nauke i savremena srpska književnost i kultura: nacionalni, regionalni, evropski i globalni okvir, pod pokroviteljstvom Ministarstva prosvete, obrazovanja i tehnološkog razvoja Republike Srbije, 2017, str. 367 – 383