Date of Award

7-15-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Thomas Slater, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Christopher Kuipers, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Kenneth Sherwood, Ph.D.

Abstract

In this dissertation, I will trace masculine representation from the moment of national trauma inflicted by 9/11 up through the present, wherein post-traumatic and posthuman masculinity has been used as coping mechanisms for unrealistic expectations of gender. In particular, I aim to discuss film, television, and graphic novels as overlapping visual media, rather than as independent genres, because filmmakers and graphic novelists alike are concerned with story telling through cinematic techniques, including mise-en-scene and framing; camera and composition techniques such as depth of field, zoom shots, point of view shots, and high/low shots; dialogue (whether auditory in film or conveyed in speech balloons); and scene pacing in various constructions of editing, panel arrangement, or panel size. The changing perceptions of masculinity as represented through the techniques I've stated in graphic novels and cinema can be tied to major changes in American culture. The texts show both the costs imposed on men and the societies affected by their actions. In other words, they show where the hyper-masculine response to 9/11 has brought us. The immediate post-9/11 representation of masculinity returned to the historical manly stereotype, confirmed once again by the American ideology of justified military aggression and violence. This aggression goes hand and hand with the revitalized John Wayne hyper-masculinity that appeared in our post-9/11 culture, as we clung to gender archetypes and social constructions as a way to grieve, as a way to move forward, and as way to reinvent the America that we had let become so feminine and weak. But hyper-masculinity was not the only response to national trauma and perceived emasculation. I plan to show that despite the revival and re-construction of certain masculine ideals, many men felt the negative effects of being forced into gender normative behavior.

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