Lords of misrule: embodied masculinities within vernacular arts practices

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Thesis type
((Thesis)/(Dissertation)) Ph.D.
Date created
Today maleness and art processes are in a state of flux. In the former case meaning and identity are questioned, and long-standing skills face ongoing technological change in the latter. Each has educational implications. This study addresses these issues by exploring masculine expressiveness within vernacular art practices, in order to discern qualities that may enable young men to create a sense of self through personal agency. A purposeful sense of who one is in relation to one’s fellows and the world, which we term identity, is essential to both individual growth, and collective human development. Though young people construct their own identities, educators may offer frameworks for doing so that are either in opposition to, or supportive of, their students’ inclinations; both can be equally valuable. Embodied agency, which, in the broadest definitional sense, means art, or art-like, activities, is salient as it too involves doing or making something, not merely thinking or talking. In this capacity art education has greater relevance than it is currently assigned, particularly as regards the encouragement of praxis. This study argues that art work is both more endemic and more varied within society than is acknowledged. It also contends that the value of vernacular or alternative practices may be pivotal to the maturation of men during a liminal period in their lives. To illustrate this, four instances of embodied masculine expression are examined: graffiti writing, tattooing, sports spectator arts and street dancing. Selection was predicated on all being ancient forms with contemporary iterations. Each case’s history is recounted and its contemporary features explored in detail. This dissertation is propositional in nature, and conceptual and interpretative in execution. It is interdisciplinary; drawing from philosophy, theology, history, literature, the humanities, popular culture, cognitive science and most of the social sciences, particularly anthropology. By concentrating on non-paradigmatic practices, in a non-evaluative fashion, the thesis determines that such activities are essential in developing both identity and a sense of agency in young men, and consequently sustaining the vitality of society as a whole.
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Scholarly level
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Bai, Heesoon
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