Presentation Title

“The beauty! The beauty!”: Hegemonic Masculinity and Conquering the Female Body in Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Presenter Status

BA 2019, Department of English

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Location

Buller Hall, Room 250

Start Date

24-5-2019 10:45 AM

Presentation Abstract

The troubled narrator of Junot Diaz’s 2007 novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Yunior, has a toxic relationship with masculinity, as evidenced by his promiscuity and violent behavior. As such, scholars often read the titular nerdy, romantic Oscar as ameliorating Yunior’s toxic masculinity by presenting a more sensitive approach to male identity. However, Díaz links Oscar Wao multiple times to Joseph Conrad’s troubling Victorian novella Heart of Darkness (1899)a colonial text describing the atrocities of the Belgian colonization of the Congo in the late 19th century. Interestingly, critics have not pursued the implications of Diaz’s connection between Heart of Darkness and Oscar Wao. Linking the two texts requires a postcolonial reading of Oscar Wao—and a shift in interpretation regarding its depiction of masculinity. Specifically, this interconnection between Oscar’s romantic quests and Heart of Darkness shows a less redemptive view of the novel’s end, and therefore of Oscar himself.

Biographical Sketch

Alexi Decker graduated from Andrews University with a BA in English literature and French studies in 2019. She enjoys music, reading, travel, and writing, and plans to take a gap year before applying to graduate school for the 2020-2021 school year.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Dr. Vanessa Corredera, Dr. Scott Moncrieff, Dr. L. Monique Pittman, and my family and friends.

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COinS
 
May 24th, 10:45 AM

“The beauty! The beauty!”: Hegemonic Masculinity and Conquering the Female Body in Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Buller Hall, Room 250

The troubled narrator of Junot Diaz’s 2007 novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Yunior, has a toxic relationship with masculinity, as evidenced by his promiscuity and violent behavior. As such, scholars often read the titular nerdy, romantic Oscar as ameliorating Yunior’s toxic masculinity by presenting a more sensitive approach to male identity. However, Díaz links Oscar Wao multiple times to Joseph Conrad’s troubling Victorian novella Heart of Darkness (1899)a colonial text describing the atrocities of the Belgian colonization of the Congo in the late 19th century. Interestingly, critics have not pursued the implications of Diaz’s connection between Heart of Darkness and Oscar Wao. Linking the two texts requires a postcolonial reading of Oscar Wao—and a shift in interpretation regarding its depiction of masculinity. Specifically, this interconnection between Oscar’s romantic quests and Heart of Darkness shows a less redemptive view of the novel’s end, and therefore of Oscar himself.