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Screening the man : masculinities and Australian adaptations 1975- 2015

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Simon, W 2017 , 'Screening the man : masculinities and Australian adaptations 1975- 2015', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the enactment of masculinities in Australian screen adaptations between 1975 and 2015. Since 81% of 362 screen adaptations produced in Australia during these four decades1 focus on the lives of men, I consider masculinity to be inseparable from Australian identity. The timeframe of forty years scrutinised in this thesis also coincides with the growth of Masculinity and Gender Studies as academic disciplines. The last four decades have also, serendipitously, witnessed the establishment and growth of Adaptation Studies as an interdisciplinary academic focus.
This thesis analyses how representations of masculinities over forty years simultaneously adhere to and challenge the relational concept of hegemonic masculinities. The argument in this thesis is informed by an interdisciplinary approach in my methodology and my interpellation as a qualitative researcher. As part of this, I have observed a number of interpretive and qualitative perspectives including cultural studies, adaptation theory, postcolonialism, social constructionism, film theory, poststructuralism, queer theory as well as gender and masculinity studies. Data management methods and close textual analysis were my main methods of making sense of my findings as part of my research process.
My thesis argues that there exists an abhorrence of hegemonic masculinities within the Australian cultural and political context in favour of the exhortation of a working-class ‘battler’ masculinity that has its roots in the mythopoetic Outback tradition. My research of Australian screen adaptations, within a forty-year period, has affirmed the changing nature of enactments of non-hegemonic masculinities within a relational theoretical framework. I have identified evidence pointing to the dismantling of patriarchal structures and signs of the gradual ascendancy of inclusive masculinities.
The representation of masculinity in Australian screen adaptation texts is at the core of my thesis because this is an area that has received little scholarly scrutiny. What will be explored throughout the work is the intangible nature of hegemonic supremacy; its changeability, as well as its relational nature according to prevailing cultural and social mores. Venerated masculinity in Australia is androcentric, white, English-speaking and stands as the binary opposite of the feminized ‘other’. Particularly, I will be arguing that in the Australian context, the quest for acceptance and legitimization in the homosocial zone of men does not align with the domain of the rich and powerful hegemons but instead is to be found within the averageness of working-class masculinity, which enjoys such an exalted status in Australia that it is indeed conjoined with national identity.
I will be exploring this in three distinct sections in the thesis.
Firstly, through the mostly commonly venerated archetypes of Australian masculinity: the larrikin, the mate and the ANZAC warrior. I will demonstrate how all three idealised embodiments of masculinity can be challenged and that desiring to belong to these three idealised ranks does not confer a commensurate hegemonic dividend on its aspirants.
The next section of my work explores the juxtaposition between city and bush living and argues that defiant masculinity becomes a refuge for disenfranchised men. This section also illustrates the pervasive threat of ostracism from a tiered patriarchal order confronting such men.
The final section of my work deals with the aforementioned associative stigmatization and oppression of those who fail to measure up to preconceived notions of how masculinity ought to be enacted, including homosexuals, Aboriginal Australians and ethnically-diverse men from non-Anglo-Celtic backgrounds.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Simon, W
Keywords: masculinity studies, Australian screen adaptations
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Copyright 2017 the author

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