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VSA2820 - Male Trouble: masculinities in visual culture

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader: Leigh Astbury


Not offered in 2007


This unit will study the representation of masculinities in visual culture, both locally and globally, over the last two decades or so. Utilising recent gender theory and discourse, it will examine some of the underlying contradictions and ambivalences of mainstream masculine identities in the fields of consumer culture, fashion, sport, war, crime, etc. Equal focus will be devoted to challenges presented to male verities by figures such as the creative artist, pop star, or cross-dresser and by alternative masculinities to be found in Indigenous, gay and queer cultures. The unit will conclude with a consideration of 'female masculinities.'


Upon successful completion of this unit, students can expect to have:

  1. Gained a sound general knowledge of the representation of a wide range of male identities, types and stereotypes within contemporary visual culture, including some which noticeably dissent from mainstream masculinities.
  2. Developed an informed understanding of the relationship of male identities in visual culture to their broader social, cultural and psychological underpinnings.
  3. A working knowledge of major recent theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of masculinities and be aware of the key contemporary discourses and debates that have arisen in their wake.
  4. Acquired the ability to apply key theoretical precepts to the analysis of material in visual culture.
  5. Developed critical skills in analysing a range of visual media, including film, advertising imagery, fashion, art and photography.
  6. The ability to recognise and to deconstruct, where appropriate, connecting thematic and conceptual paradigms that appear across a diverse range of visual media.
  7. (Third-year level students) Students taking this unit at third-year level will be expected to demonstrate in their essay and their visual test a more explicit and sophisticated understanding of theoretical concepts germane to the analysis of the visual material and texts studied.


Essay (3000 words) : 60%
Visual Test (1.5 hours (1500 words equivalent)) : 40%

Contact hours

1 two-hour screening, 1 one-hour lecture and 1 one-hour tutorial per week


One first year level unit in Visual Culture or a comparable discipline