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M.Phil Proposal

The area of choice for my Ph.D is post-apocalyptic fiction. The performance of masculine roles
by the characters in post-apocalyptic texts, and the different kinds of masculinities delineated in
the narratives so as to make a binary between good men and bad men is what interests me. My
research will focus on the preservation of gender roles and its linkage with the preservation of
humanity and moral good in post-apocalyptic novels, particularly The Road by Cormac
McCarthy and I Am Legend by Richard Matheson.

The post-apocalyptic condition signifies a collapsed civilization. The male protagonists struggle
for survival is also an attempt to preserve a sense of humanity or the values of civilization in the
absence of one. The anonymous hero of The Road keeps reassuring the boy throughout the novel
that they are the 'good guys' as opposed to the majority of people they encounter in their journey,
who have descended into a savage state of cannibalism and anarchy. Good masculinity is set up
in binary opposition to bad masculinity. Traditional masculinity is privileged here, and retaining
traditionally masculine values is coded as the preservation of human values.

The Road describes in detail the many survival strategies the protagonist deploys to keep himself
and his son safe. The man plays the role of protector and provider for his son and strives to
perform these roles in the absence of supporting societal structures. The heros attempts at
ensuring their physical survival are symbolic of the survival of the masculine role of father as
protector, and on a larger level, the survival of humanity as it ought to be. The connection
between sustaining gender roles and maintaining one's humanness is the area I am interested in

Neville in I Am Legend struggles to keep himself alive in the face of a constant threat from
vampires, and a significant difficulty is his suppression of his sexual attraction towards female
vampires. In his loneliness he even contemplates joining the vampires and meditates upon the
rights of vampires. But he resists, in a nod to notions of ideal masculinity, by privileging
rationality and intellect, and keeping his passions in check.

The term 'Masculinities' suggests a multiplicity of meanings. According to R.W Connells

Masculinities, the semantics of masculinities are never static or uniform, and women and social
environments have an influence on the types of masculinities men enact. How do the dystopian
realities in these novels bring about different types of masculinities and cause a change in the
behavior and gender performance of the characters? In the desperate circumstances of the two
male protagonist, who struggle constantly to satisfy basic needs and escape predators (human or
supernatural), is there is a change in the male characters which is remarkable or is the fact that
they attempt to hold on to the values of the old world itself count as being heroic and good?

The last question I want to explore is how objects, values and people in the care and protection
of the protagonists work to constitute their identity. Does traditional masculinity require a man to
possess certain objects and persons which function as self-objects for the male protagonist for
him to have a positive self identity and to be viewed as a good human being by readers? Does
what the character associates with, and protects and provides for determine his goodness (or
badness)? My study attempts to look at the changing masculinities in the context of a post-
apocalyptic condition and the connections between the preservation of gender roles of a world
that has collapsed to the preservation of humanity and hope in these texts.

Adams, Tim. Cormac McCarthy: America's great poetic visionary, available at , viewed
on 6th of May 2014

Bould, Mark and Vint, Sherryl. The Routledge Concise History of Science Fiction. Routledge.
New York, 2011.

Bortz, Maggie. "Carrying the Fire: Individuation Toward the Mature Masculine and Telos of
Cultural Myth in Cormac McCarthys No Country for Old Men and The Road." Jung Journal 5.4
(2011): 28-42.

Connell, Raewyn. Masculinities. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

Doyle, Briohny. "The Apocalypse is MasculineMasculinities in Crisis in Survivalist Film."

Feasey, Rebecca. Masculinity and popular television. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press,

Frye, Steven, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Cormac McCarthy. Cambridge University Press,

Hillcoat, John. The Road. Dimension Films, The Weinstein Company (US), FilmNation
Entertainment (Int.). 2009

Lawrence, Francis. I am Legend. Warner Bros. 2007

Lauro, Sarah Juliet, and Karen Embry. "A zombie manifesto: the nonhuman condition in the era
of advanced capitalism." BOUNDARY 2 35.1 (2008): 85.

McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006

Schuller, Dorothea. "Something black and of the night." Der Vampir: Von der Dmmerung der
Gothic Novel bis zum Morgen-Grauen des Teenieromans; Tagung am 2. und 3. Oktober 2009 in
Kln (2009).

Sullivan, Nell. "The Good Guys: McCarthy's The Road as Post9/11 Male Sentimental Novel."
Genre 46.1 (2013): 79-101.

Snyder, William A. Hospitality in Cormac McCarthys The Road. The Road. Spec. Issue of
The Cormac McCarthy Journal 6 (2008): 69-86.
Tyree, Joshua M. "Warm-Blooded: True Blood and Let the Right One In." (2009): 31-37.

Wielenberg, Erik. "God, Morality, and Meaning in Cormac McCarthys The Road." Cormac
McCarthy Journal 8.1 (2010): 1-16.

Zibrak, Arielle. "Intolerance, A Survival Guide: Heteronormative Culture Formation in Cormac

McCarthy's The Road." Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature, Culture, and
Theory 68.3 (2012): 103-128.