Changing Definitions of Masculinity With Dr Avishek Parui

You need to affect and effect – said Dr Avishek Parui, Assistant Professor of English at IIT Guwahati .Dr.Parui delivered three separate talks at EFLU Hyderabad, on topics ranging from Masculinity and Memory to tracing the link between Postmodernism and Post colonialism through literary criticism. In the first lecture that he delivered in the campus, titled ‘Masculinity, Affect and Popular Culture’, Mr.Parui talked at large about the definitions of masculinity as influenced and defined by popular culture.

 Talking about how masculinity has been redefined and shaped by the influx of various cultures, Dr. Parui threw light on the internal hegemony in football and military forces wherein a certain group or a particular male alone decides to take the lead. He said that such behavior is reinforced by competitiveness and that this hegemony is particularly visible among the forward and strikers of football teams, and most often than not, strikers fall out when this hegemony is questioned.

According to Dr.Parui, ‘Top Gun’ is a relevant cinematic reference for masculinity studies, in which the main protagonist played by Tom Cruise challenges and fights within his group of pilots to reach the heights and the ‘alpha male’ status. According to Dr.Parui, the movie is a good example for understanding male anxiety and castration complex.

During the course of the lecture, Dr.Parui also touched on the 3 ms in gender studies : mimesis, mimicry and metonymy. He said that most of the definitions and archetypes of masculinity are partaken from different cultures and for this he quoted the popular example of the British soldiers with their handle bar mustache which was adopted from the Jodhpurs of Rajasthan.

Dr.Parui was of the opinion that the idea of masculinity changed in society with the World war I, and how the word ‘shell shocked’ was subsequently developed in this period to idolize all those soldiers who had gone through traumatic stress experiences.

Talking about the various cultural pretexts under which masculinity is defined in modern society, he stressed on the importance of understanding a man as a man alone and that giving various definitions and cultural subtexts to his persona creates for unwanted pressure and stress on the modern man.

Dr. Parui drew anecdotes from stories like – Shooting the Elephant, to show how the hegemony and supremacy of a white male is shown in a different culture under the pretext of various masculine attributes.

The session ended with an hour long open- discussion in which the students, research scholars and the professor himself got actively involved.

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