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Abstract

In contrast to feminist theory or women’s studies, masculinity studies is a relatively new approach to analysing literature. This article discusses the state of literary masculinity studies and its relationship to sociological men’s studies and feminism. It highlights the intention of masculinity studies scholarship to expose the damaging impact of patriarchy on men (as well as women), and its aim to celebrate alternative masculinities over hegemonic ideals through an analysis of male protagonists. It also notes the criticisms brought against the theoretical approach: that men are already adequately represented in literary theory; that the approach can be either universalist or too fragmented by sub-categorisations of masculinity according to class, race, sexuality, etc. Giving an overview of the scholarship in the field, the article notes that while sexuality and ethnicity are becoming more frequent subjects for critics, issues of age – both youth and senescence – are relatively ignored, and suggests that this theme requires further examination in literary masculinity studies and in men’s studies more widely.