Clint Eastwood and Issues of American Masculinity

Fordham Univ Press
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In this risk-taking book, a major feminist philosopher engages the work of the actor and director who has progressed from being the stereotypical man's manto pushing the boundaries of the very genres-the Western, the police thriller, the war or boxing movie-most associated with American masculinity. Cornell's highly appreciative encounter with the films directed by Clint Eastwood revolve around the questions What is it to be a good man?and What is it to be, not just an ethical person, but specifically an ethical man?Focusing on Eastwood as a director rather than as an actor or cultural icon, she studies Eastwood in relation to major philosophical and ethical themes that have been articulated in her own life's work.In her fresh and revealing readings of the films, Cornell takes up pressing issues of masculinity as it is caught up in the very definition of ideas of revenge, violence, moral repair, and justice. Eastwood grapples with this involvement of masculinity in and through many of the great symbols of American life, including cowboys, boxing, police dramas, and ultimately war-perhaps the single greatest symbol of what it means (or is supposed to mean) to be a man. Cornell discusses films from across Eastwood's career, from his directorial debut with Play Misty for Me to Million Dollar Baby.Cornell's book is not a traditional book of film criticism or a cinematographic biography. Rather, it is a work of social commentary and ethical philosophy. In a world in which we seem to be losing our grip on shared symbols, along with community itself, Eastwood's films work with the fragmented symbols that remain to us in order to engage masculinity with the most profound moral and ethical issues facing us today.
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About the author

Drucilla Cornell is National Research Foundation Professor in Customary Law, Indigenous Ideals, and the Dignity Jurisprudence at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and Professor of Political Science, Women & Gender Studies, and Comparative Literature at Rutgers University.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Fordham Univ Press
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Published on
Aug 25, 2009
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Pages
184
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ISBN
9780823230143
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Criticism / Feminist
Performing Arts / Film / History & Criticism
Philosophy / Ethics & Moral Philosophy
Philosophy / Political
Social Science / Men's Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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How can women create a meaningful and joyous life for themselves? Is it enough to be equal with men? In this provocative and wide-ranging book, Drucilla Cornell argues that women should transcend the quest for equality and focus on what she shows is a far more radical project: achieving freedom. Cornell takes us on a highly original exploration of what it would mean for women politically, legally, and culturally, if we took this ideal of freedom seriously--if, in her words, we recognized that "hearts starve as well as bodies." She takes forceful and sometimes surprising stands on such subjects as abortion, prostitution, pornography, same-sex marriage, international human rights, and the rights and obligations of fathers. She also engages with what it means to be free on a theoretical level, drawing on the ideas of such thinkers as Kant, Rawls, Ronald Dworkin, Hegel, and Lacan.

Cornell begins by discussing what she believes lies at the heart of freedom: the ability for all individuals to pursue happiness in their own way, especially in matters of love and sex. This is only possible, she argues, if we protect the "imaginary domain"--a psychic and moral space in which individuals can explore their own sources of happiness. She writes that equality with men does not offer such protection, in part because men themselves are not fully free. Instead, women must focus on ensuring that individuals face minimal interference from the state and from oppressive cultural norms. They must also respect some controversial individual choices. Cornell argues in favor of permitting same-sex couples to marry and adopt children, for example. She presses for access to abortion and for universal day care. She also justifies lifestyles that have not always been supported by other feminists, ranging from staying at home as a primary caregiver to engaging in prostitution. She argues that men should have similar freedoms--thus returning feminism to its promise that freedom for women would mean freedom for all.


Challenging, passionate, and powerfully argued, Cornell's book will have a major impact on the course of feminist thought.

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