From Foreskin's Lament to Skin and Bone: Challenging Perceptions Of Masculinity in New Zealand, 1980-2003
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis begins by arguing that the defining moment of New Zealand nationalism occurred not at Gallipoli but in Britain in 1905 with the triumphant tour of the All Blacks. The myths were later strengthened in the 1930s cultural literary movement which placed the 'ordinary bloke', and his traditions, at the centre of importance in New Zealand society. While this literary movement diminished towards the 1970s, it continued to exert a powerful influence in New Zealand up till the 1980s when authors, such as Greg McGee, sought to challenge the relevance of this nationalism and definition of masculinity. The intention of this thesis is not only to consider the mutually reinforcing areas of masculinity and rugby in generating a distinctively New Zealand identity, but more importantly to demonstrate how perceptions towards masculinity have been reviewed and reevaluated since the late 1970s. Rugby has also had a role in challenging and undermining those myths of identity. In order to chart the shifts in these perceptions, the thesis will not only focus on Greg McGee's Foreskin's Lament and its subsequent revision in 1985,but also on Whitemen. Old Scores, Skinand Bone and the accompanying literary criticism which deals with all of these texts to destabilise the myths and suggest where masculinity now stands in New Zealand.