Representing the Male

Masculinity, Genre and Social Context in Six South Wales Novels

Author(s) John Perrott Jenkins

Language: English

Genre(s): Literary Criticism

Series: Gender Studies in Wales

  • June 2021 · 256 pages ·216x138mm

  • · Paperback - 9781786837783
  • · eBook - pdf - 9781786837790
  • · eBook - epub - 9781786837806

About The Book

The book subjects male characters in six south Wales novels written between 1936 and 2014 to detailed, gendered reading. It argues that the novels critique the form of masculine hegemony propagated by structural patriarchy serving the material demands of industrial capitalism. Each depicts characters confined to a limited repertoire of culturally endorsed behaviourial norms – such as displays of power, decisiveness and self-control – which prohibit the expression and cultivation of the subjective self. Within the social organisation of industrial capitalism, the working-class characters are, in practice, reduced to dispensable functionaries at work while, in theory, they are accorded the status of patriarchally-sanctioned principals at home. Ideologically subservient and ‘feminised’ in one context, they are ideologically dominant and ‘masculinised’ in another. As they negotiate, resist or strive to reconcile the irreconcilable demands of such gendered practices, recurring patterns of exclusion, inadequacy and mental instability are made evident in their representation.


‘This innovative and illuminating analysis of the representation of masculinity in south Wales coalfield fiction digs deep beneath the surface of the texts and mines a rich seam of profound gender complexity and contradiction. To read it is an energising intellectual experience, which highlights the general relevance of these novels.’
-Emerita Professor Jane Aaron, University of South Wales

‘John Jenkins’s sensitive and acute exploration of these novels reinstates the unjustly overlooked Ron Berry into the canon, and persuasively demonstrates that damaged and toxic masculinities are still a feature of post-industrial and post-devolution Welsh literary cultures – this is a fine addition to the field of Welsh literary masculinities.’
-Dr Aidan Byrne, University of Wolverhampton
‘Jenkins’s book is a long-overdue, trenchant and exceptionally perceptive analysis of the culture of masculinity in the Valleys, as represented in some key industrial novels including Lewis Jones’s Cwmardy and Menna Gallie’s Strike for a Kingdom. Ranging from the 1930s to the 1980s, it shows how a persistently macho culture can repress and warp both women and men … For Welsh readers, particularly, this is an essential book, analysing a phenomenon that is so ingrained in our culture that it has for too long been simply accepted as the norm.’
-Emerita Professor Katie Gramich, Cardiff University


1. Dominant, Residual, Emergent: Forms and Formations of Male
Identity in Gwyn Jones’s Times Like These (1936)
2. Genre and the Tribulations of Masculinity in Lewis Jones’s
Cwmardy (1937)
3. Investigating Genre and Gender in Menna Gallie’s Strike for a Kingdom (1959)
4. Genre and the Embodied Male in Ron Berry’s So Long, Hector Bebb
5. Patriarchy, Power and Politics: Masculinities in Roger Granelli’s
Dark Edge (1997) and Kit Habianic’s Until Our Blood is Dry (2014)

About the Author(s)

Author(s): John Perrott Jenkins

Following a career in teaching, lecturing and writing on English and American literature, John Perrott Jenkins is currently working on postcolonialism, border identity and the social construction of gender in anglophone Welsh fiction.

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