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Sworn Brothers and Masculine Intimacy

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Kassandra Chase Tramel

on 22 August 2014

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Transcript of Sworn Brothers and Masculine Intimacy

Sworn Brothers and Masculine Intimacy:

a presentation by Kassandra "Chase" Tramel
Epic of Gilgamesh
In this ancient Mesopotamian epic, the tyrant king Gilgamesh is sent a friend in the form of the beast-man Enkidu.
"[H]omosociality refers to bonds between persons of the same sex, and more broadly to 'same sex focused social relations'" (Kolsky 42).
"[S]ocial relations between men form pivotal, organizational structure, controlling and maintaining traditional masculinity" (42).
"[Homosocial bonds are] not necessarily homoerotic....Such relations underscore the primacy of homosocial bonds that sideline women and may require men to demonstrate their masculinity by flaunting their heterosexuality" (42).
But why study homosociality in narratives?
Researchers can use homosociality as a tool to examine the recursive nature of culture and narratives.
Changing perception of gender, masculinity, and intimacy effect narratives

Researchers can use homosociality as a tool to examine the role of speculative fiction in society
Does speculative fiction function as mythology?
Competition and Encouragement
Emotional Upheaval after Death of Partner
The Comradery of Soliders
Homosocial Elements of the Epic
Competition & Encouragement
The Iliad and the Odyssey
Details the ten year war between the Greeks and the Trojans.
Homosocial Elements
The Books of Samuel
David and Jonathan, two heroes of Israel, make a covenant that lasts generations. Jonathan, the Prince of Israel, protects the warrior David from his father Saul.
Comradery Between Soldiers
Bonding as Aggressors

Sex and Romance
triangulation of desire
Classical Mythology
(speculative fiction)
"...an overarching dialogue among the disciplines of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and their many variants..." (Morgan 567).
Short stories, novels, and films that:

Focuses on aggression; male heroes are warriors and soldiers
Focuses on avoiding and defeating aggression; male protagonists are investigators.
The Feminist Movement?
"The phrase 'alpha male' may stand for all things stereotypically patriarchal:
"...triangulation of desire; that is, the intimacy emerging 'between men' is constructed through an overt and shared desire for a feminized object" (Gillam 6).
"...a new model of masculinity, one that matures into acceptance of its more traditionally 'feminine' aspects" (Gillam 2).
"...the male lead’s first and/or primary intimacy...is with one or more male characters." (5).
"... a new model of postfeminist strength in the family as a whole...marked by cooperation, selflessness, and intelligence" (6).
"The trend of the New Man seems neither insidious nor nefarious, nor is it out of step with the larger cultural movement" (7).
does speculative fiction function as a mythology?
what is myth anyways?
"Myth is notoriously difficult to define" (Gentile 85)
"...a story that is sacred to and shared by a group of people who find their most important meaning in it....an event that continues to have meaning in the present because it is remembered" (O'Flahery 27)
"...eternal dramas that are living themselves out repeatedly in our own personal lives...eternal patterns of the way life happens below the surface" (Edinger 3)
"...an art form that points beyond history to what is timeless in human existence, helping us to get beyond the chaotic flux of random events, and glimpse the core of reality" (Armstrong 7)
"...the distilled essence of human experience expressed in metaphor" (O'Connor 3)

Choosing Friends Over Family
the edge of research
Narratives portraying homosociality change societal perception
Describes the journeys of the Greek Odysseus as he attempts to travel home after the war.
present alternative conceptions of the world
critiques of science, society, and identity.
Think about...
where our worlds are heading technologically
& politically
and interrogate where we are now and where we have come from
Classical myth homosociality
Modern speculative fiction homosociality
competitiveness for positions of status and leadership,
and social isolation" (Gillam 3).
lack of visible or shared emotion,
physical power and social dominance,
unquestioned authority,
Are speculative fiction narratives...
extremely meaningful?
eternal dramas?
constantly playing out?
made of timeless human existence?
utilizing the core of reality?
complex metaphors?
the essence of human experience?
A Return to Classical Homosociality within Modern Speculative Fiction
"What counts as the sexual is...variable and itself political" (Sedgwick 15)
"[I]n any male dominated society, there is a special relationship between male homosocial (including homosexual) desire and the structures for maintaining and transmitting patriarchal power" (Sedgwick 25)
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