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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Omega Men: The Masculinist Discourse of Apocalyptic Manhood in Postwar American Cinema

  • Author(s): Crago, Ezekiel I
  • Advisor(s): Vint, Sherryl
  • Burrill, Derek
  • et al.
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License

This study investigates anxieties over the role of white masculinity in American society after World War Two articulated in speculative films of the post-apocalypse. It treats the nascent genre of films as attempts to recenter white masculinity in the national imagination while navigating the increased visibility of this subject position, one that maintains dominance in society through its invisibility as superordinate standard of manhood. Using an interdisciplinary approach that employs methods of cultural studies, gender studies, and critical race theory, the dissertation argues that masculinity acts as a technology for being-in-the-world that can be used by subjects with bodies coded male or female. The films analyzed denaturalize masculinity by revealing the operations of this technology and the ways in which it defines the roles of men in a masculine masquerade. Post-apocalyptic films are instructive sites of articulations of apocalyptic masculinity through their narratives of fitness determining what kind of subjects will populate a precarious future.

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