Senior, Jordan (2017) Walk Like a Man: Hegemonic Masculinity and Un-Made Men in 'The Sopranos'. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This thesis is intended to provide a re-evaluation of 'The Sopranos' in response to recent contributions made to the field of film and television studies regarding the rise of “Quality Television” (Albrecht 2015 p. 5) and the “male-centred serial” (Lotz 2014 p. 21) as a popular medium. The thesis will examine the degree to which the depiction of a crisis in masculinity in 'The Sopranos' can be said to represent a patriarchal or feminist configuration of masculinity (Lotz 2014 p. 35), and to what extent it either reaffirms or repudiates Connell’s (2005) model of hegemonic masculinity. The argument will focus on three main areas; the embodiment of masculinity, the performance of masculinity, and the presentation of violence in 'The Sopranos'. The argument of this essay is that 'The Sopranos' employs gendered processes of pleasure, unpleasure and identification to deconstruct hegemonic masculinity as part of a demythologising project which uses affective learning to achieve its aims (Tan 1996 p.28), and in doing so, the thesis suggests that 'The Sopranos' creates a space for imagining new ways of performing masculinity and new, feminist configurations of male gender identity based on the acceptance and internalisation of “prohibit[ed] forms of emotion, attachment and pleasure” (Connell 2005 p. 85). The thesis uses Connell’s sociology of hegemonic masculinity to interrogate the presentation of masculinity in the text because hegemonic masculinity remains the most “visible” and culturally “honoured” masculinity (Connell 2002), and as such, constitutes a standard by which all marginalised masculinities are measured. The idea of catharsis as the key characteristic of pleasure is used to explore the possibility that both viewer identification and viewing pleasure in The Sopranos are codified as feminine. The thesis argues that the central tension of the series is the internal conflict between masculinity and femininity, and that masculinity is presented as a “Complication” (Tan 1996 p.59) in the narrative which generates tension; a tension which is only relieved through the reaffirmation of femininity.

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