Men and Masculinities in American Television (ACLA 2024, March 14-17)
Masculinity is in crisis. This comes as no surprise to anyone following current events, taking note that the perpetrators of violent crimes (most significantly mass shootings, terrorism, and domestic violence) are overwhelmingly male. It becomes clear that, despite their dominant status in American culture, a significant proportion of men are lonely, violent, and repressed.
In Female Masculinity, Jack Halberstam claims that “if what we call ‘dominant masculinity’ appears to be a naturalized relation between maleness and power, then it makes little sense to examine men for the contours of that masculinity's social construction” (2). Most feminist scholarship has (understandably) followed suit and centered scholarly discussions of gender and power around women. Yet at this crucial moment, we are left to ask: how can you be masculine in this day and age?
On television, we are confronted with varied representations of men that both affirm and challenge commonly accepted conceptions of masculinity. We believe that television is a particularly important medium to analyze since it provides consistent investment in a character, with each series crafting its own blueprint of masculinity over time. Television programs are on-air longer and cumulatively devote more than three hours to narrative construction and character development. A TV show can become a consistent part of—and influence in—our lives.
Our goal for this seminar is to foster an engaging conversation about the plural representations of men and masculinities in American television. Papers in this seminar should aim to analyze both endearing and unsavory depictions of men to determine how men should be or might be, rather than how they shouldn’t be. Our focus is mainly on American television so that we can keep our discussions grounded in American masculinities. We welcome interdisciplinary approaches, methods, and frameworks as they relate to the ideas formulated here.
Potential series for analysis include but are not limited to Atlanta, Barry, BoJack Horseman, Dear White People, Family Guy, Mad Men, Ramy, Seinfeld, The Simpsons, The Sopranos, Succession, Suits, Ted Lasso, and You.
Paper proposals must be submitted on the ACLA website: https://www.acla.org/men-and-masculinities-american-television