Representative Men: Moral Perfectionism, Masculinity and Psychoanalysis in Good Will Hunting

Film-Philosophy 19 (1):270-288 (2015)
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Abstract

This article argues that Stanley Cavell's notion of moral perfectionism must be understood, within the American cultural context, as deeply intertwined with myths of heroic American masculinity. It traces connections between Cavell's descriptions of moral perfectionism, the transcendentalist authors on whom he relies, and writings about the myth of the American frontier hero. When understood as a tradition of masculinity, it becomes possible to trace moral perfectionism across much wider areas of American cinematic culture than Cavell's reading suggests; Good Will Hunting is used as an example which further illuminates the relationship between moral perfectionism and American masculinities. Psychoanalysis, a major feature of Good Will Hunting as well as an important aspect of Cavellian moral perfectionism, must also be revisited in terms of the differences in its popular mythologisation for men versus for women.

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References found in this work

Cities of Words: Pedagogical Letters on a Register of the Moral Life.Stanley Cavell - 2005 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 63 (2):202-203.
Contesting Tears: The Hollywood Melodrama of the Unknown Woman.Stanley Cavell - 1998 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 56 (1):82-83.
Pursuits of Happiness: The Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage.Noel Carroll - 1982 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 41 (1):103-106.
Cavell, Stanley and melodramas of unknown women.Tania Modleski - 1990 - Critical Inquiry 17 (1):237-238.
Postscript : To Whom It May Concern.Stanley Cavell - 1990 - Critical Inquiry 16 (2):248-289.

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