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Performing the Curmudgeon: The Toothless Lion

Abstract : Growing old is a process of reinvention. Performing the curmudgeon is one way to redefine dignity in a time of waning powers. The curmudgeon trades in earlier roles of authority and virility and, by repositioning himself above the fray, creates a new space where he can perform. This paper draws on J.L. Austin’s notion of performative utterances and explores how they can coalesce to form a persona which becomes a functioning gender parody (J. Butler) and participate in a broader dynamic of masculinities (R.W. Connell and J.W. Messerschmidt). After defining the curmudgeon, this paper considers two “case studies:” the comedian George Carlin and the poet Philip Larkin, in light of issues of chronology, space, sexuality and the creation of a “post-virile” status. Lastly, it addresses the political coding of the curmudgeon and its future as a masculine parody.
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Charles Holdefer. Performing the Curmudgeon: The Toothless Lion. Culture, Society & Masculinities, Men's Studies Press, 2011, vol. 3 (n° 1), p. 62 - 73. ⟨10.3149/CSM.0301.62⟩. ⟨hal-01643552⟩

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