SWAG 265 Manhood and Masculinity in the U.S.

Black man in profile holding a flower

What does it mean to be a “real man” in the contemporary United States? What impact does masculinity have on sports, pop culture, and health, for example? How do race and sexuality impact masculinity? These are just a few of the questions that we will begin considering in this course. Masculinity, like "whiteness," has long been an opaque social category, receiving scant attention as a focus of study in its own right. But within the past few decades social scientific scholarship on the cultural construction of masculinity and on men and masculinities as complex and changing symbolic categories are the subject of intense theorization. This was born in part from the recognition that early feminist and gender theory focused almost exclusively (and for obvious political reasons) on the position and experience of women. Men, except where they were situated as part of the problem (the abuser, the oppressor, the patriarch), were neither the object nor the subject of study. This course critically analyzes manhood and masculinity as socially constructed and ever-changing concepts deeply entangled with race, class, disability, and sexuality. We will interrogate how masculinities influence actions and self-perceptions as well as analyze how masculinity promotes hierarchies of power and privilege in groups, organizations, and institutions, such as education, work, religion, sports, family, media, and the military. We will investigate the origins and development of masculinity, its expressions, and its problematic manifestations (including hegemonic masculinity, violence, sexual assault, health outcomes, etc.). By the end of the course, students should have an understanding of the ways that masculinity has shaped the lives and choices of men and women, boys and girls and should also be able to identify and question the taken-for-granted aspects of masculinity.

Katrina Karkazis

FALL 2022

Link to full course info