The American Fraternity is a photo book that exposes one of the primary sources of America’s misogynistic culture: the college fraternity. Unlike other photo books, which are designed to be miniature gallery exhibits, The American Fraternity is a concept book, a mysterious, sacred handbook with photographs, with the text of a real ritual manual from a prominent college fraternity. Most modern U.S. presidents, senators, justices, and executives have taken arcane oaths of allegiance like the ones it contains. It is filled with dark power.
The photographs were shot over seven years at a UC Berkeley fraternity where the old manual comes from. Release forms were signed. The American Fraternity is the first body of photographs in history to expose the dark, two-century-old world of fraternities.
The American Fraternity’s design follows its fraternity’s original ritual manual. It is a black, soft leather-bound volume, 6×8 inches, the kind of missal one finds in a cult. It is 200 pages long with 100 photographs.
As you turn the pages, you marvel at the rituals, the old typeface, the historic imagery, and the candid, horrifying photographs. You see the high-minded constitution of the fraternity next to photos of its often violent, misogynistic reality. And you begin to see that the college fraternity is not a passing phase, but the historical fountain of leadership for a hubristic, chauvinistic male pleasure fortress—the modern United States.
To drive home this point, The American Fraternity lists the many US presidents, cabinet members, current Senators and Representatives, Supreme Court justices, CEOs, and bishops of the church who are or were in college fraternities. You see that the young men in the pictures are the past and future leaders of American institutions and families. You finally see why forty-percent of American college graduates cast their only vote, in the year 2016, for a man as hubristic and chauvinistic as Donald Trump.
Three essays accompany The American Fraternity. Two—one by Cynthia Robinson (Cornell University, author of the novel Birds of Wonder) and one by Nicholas Syrett (University of Kansas, author of The Company He Keeps: A History of White College Fraternities)—explain the sexualities of the fraternity house. A third—a real research paper written for class by one of the fraternity members—captures the essence of fraternity mentality.
Andrew Moisey – The American Fraternity
An Illustrated Manual
Essays by Cynthia Robinson, Nicholas Syrett and a Fraternity Brother
Daylight, October 2018