Communication and Culture | Seminar in Media Studies (Topic: Screening the Male: Masculinity in Hollywood Cinema)
C793 | 14624 | Barbara Klinger
CMCL-C 793: Seminar in Media Studies
(Topic: Screening the Male: Masculinity in Hollywood Cinema)
Class Number: 14624
W, 2:30 PM-5:00 PM, Location: TBA
Film screenings Tu, 7:00 PM- 10:30 PM
Meets with CULS-C 701 and AMST-G 751
Open to Graduates Only!
Instructor: Barbara Klinger
Office: Mottier Hall 201
Since the late 1980s, media studies has become increasingly
interested in how masculinity is represented on screen. Before this
recent interest, critics assumed that depictions of masculinity in
film were fairly uniform and that what we saw repeatedly was the so-
called American masculine ideal—the square-jawed, macho, rugged
individualist who could right all wrongs with his fists or a gun.
But upon closer inspection, critics have recognized that while this
type certainly exists, there are significant contradictions and
crises in its representations, as well as far greater diversity and
complexity in male images in the cinema than previously suspected.
Further, more complex notions of how men appear on screen ultimately
help us better understand female images; the nature of male roles
helps determine the constraints on and possibilities of female
roles, as well as how the interrelationship between the sexes will
In this course we will begin by examining the social and historical
basis of the masculine ideal—the Western cowboy-hero—and by
sketching his evolution as an important figure in U.S. cinema. We
will then study many other masculine types that depart from this
model, considering how ethnicity, race, homosexuality, and other
kinds of “difference” have figured into male portrayals. As we
explore these depictions, we will also discuss how star images and
genres affect the audience’s perception of masculinity. Throughout
the class, we will consider how representations of masculinity have
worked in relation to or against conceptions of national identity at
various historical moments. How do images of men in this key mass
medium figure into the creation and transformation of what it means
to be an “American” at different times in the nation’s history?
Assignments will include class presentations and a research paper.
Readings potentially include selections from: Richard Slotkin,
Gunfighter Nation; Robert Ray, A Certain Tendency of the Hollywood
Cinema; Steven Cohan and Ina Rae Hark, eds., Screening the Male;
Steven Cohan, Masked Men; Tania Modleski, Feminism Without Women;
Yvonne Tasker, Spectacular Bodies; Ed Guerrero, Framing Blackness;
Judith Butler, Gender Trouble; Eve Sedgwick, Between Men; Richard
Dyer, Heavenly Bodies; Richard Dyer, White; Susan Jeffords,
Hardbodies; Kaja Silverman, Male Subjectivity in the Cinema; Gina
Marchetti, Romance and the ‘Yellow Peril’; and essays by Robyn
Wiegman, Miriam Hansen, and Richard Meyer.