Masculinities and Emotion in Contemporary Australian Drama and its Film Adaptations
Representations of masculinities ‘under pressure’ have the potential to challenge broader cultural conceptions of what it means to be a man both locally and within a global context. In the dramatic genres of drama and film characters tend to be represented in relationships of conflict or in crisis situations and these experiences of personal trauma often evoke heightened emotional states. This paper examines how the use of different signifying strategies in plays and their film adaptations influences the ways in which emotions and meanings about masculinities are communicated in various textual pairings.
Contemporary Western masculinities privilege rationality over emotionality and are associated with a limited range of emotional expression. Hegemonic constructions of masculinity define certain emotions as acceptably masculine, such as anger and pride, but demand that other, more ‘feminine’ emotions, such as sadness, fear and love, be repressed. This is consistent with masculine themes of power and control, and with David Buchbinder’s observation that masculinity is constructed negatively as ‘not-feminine’ and ‘not-homosexual’.
Redefinitions of masculinities that allow for a broad range of emotional expression offer significant potential in moves towards a more human(e) future. The protagonist in Andrew Bovell’s play ‘Speaking in Tongues’ and its film adaptation ‘Lantana’ experiences an emotional rejuvenation. In Paul Brown et al’s ‘Aftershocks’ the characters’ responses to an earthquake challenge the bluntness of affect that is common in dominant masculinities.
Christine Boman (Australia)
Department of English
Christine Boman is a Ph.D. student at Macquarie University, where she is in the final stage of writing on Representations of Masculinities in Contemporary Australian Drama and its Film Adaptations. She has a B.A.(Hons.) from Macquarie University.
(30 min. Conference Paper, English)