Toxic Masculinity (Classical to Contemporary)

Session Convenors:

Carol Richardson (University of Edinburgh)

Lucy Weir (University of Edinburgh)

Please email your paper proposal to the session convenors using the Paper Proposal Form


Performative acts of ritualised violence (purification and mortification, torture and execution) are usually given visual form to justify their deterrent effect. The aestheticisation of violence in this context reflects a complex individual and/or collective desire for absolution – positing the body as a site of ritual sacrifice, sado-masochistic manipulation, and, ultimately, spiritual sanctification.

Masculinity is, we are repeatedly told, enmeshed in a perpetual state of crisis: the destabilising of patriarchal norms set in motion by feminist movements of the 1960s and 70s is continually restated in contemporary debates around toxic masculinity and issues of privilege. It is perhaps unsurprising that the rhetoric of populist, right-wing politics consistently returns to this dual anxiety, lamenting the twin evils of terrorism and feminism.

In considering the lengthy and global history of public violence, we are led to question the motivation of such actions. Are these simply criminal acts that have been explained away by commentators, historians and journalists intent on emotive and sensationalist institutional and collective narrative by means of which one group defines itself in opposition to another? More ‘polite’ societies (academies, churches, lodges, orders and clubs) might use subtler means of group formation, but they are nevertheless exclusive and illusive.

This session will explore the intersection of spectacle and suffering in relation to issues of gender, especially the notion of toxic masculinity. We invite contributions that are as inclusive as possible, explicitly calling for papers from medieval to the contemporary, and especially looking for broad international range.

Submit a paper

Please email your paper proposals direct to the session convenors above, using the Paper Proposal Form

You need to provide a title and abstract (250 words maximum) for a 25-minute paper (unless otherwise specified), your name and institutional affiliation (if any).

Please make sure the title is concise and reflects the contents of the paper because the title is what appears online, in social media and in the printed programme.

You should receive an acknowledgement receipt of your submission within two weeks from the session convenors.

Deadline for submissions: Monday 21 October 2019

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