University of Sussex
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A cinema of white masculine crisis: race and gender in contemporary British film

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posted on 2023-06-07, 15:25 authored by Neil Graham Slack
The focus of this thesis is contemporary British cinema. Specifically, the emergence of a representational trend within its texts that has resulted in a disproportionate number of films whose protagonists are white, male, and who are in some way, beset by crisis. Two categories of identity are thus explored in this thesis, each of which possesses its own register of meaning, each of which requires (or seems to require) a particular approach in terms of the way that it is represented in film. These two categories are race and gender. In every sense then, this thesis seeks to take part in the dialogue which since the late eighties and particularly during the 1990’s, has formed around the idea that contemporary white masculinity is in crisis, and has sought to provide evidence both for and against that idea in the texts of contemporary popular culture. What this thesis aims to add to that dialogue, however, is a greater awareness of the way in which race functions in society and in cultural representations, as well as a better understanding of the extent to which its influence is discernible in the texts of contemporary British cinema alongside the trend towards portrayals of white masculine crisis. Employing a cultural studies trajectory throughout, this thesis draws on areas of whiteness and race theory, masculinity studies, film theory, culture and media studies, plus theories of representation, in presenting its arguments, and uses the tools of close textual analysis during the film readings that are its single largest element. Special emphasis is placed on situating both the arguments put forward and the films discussed in their appropriate cultural context, and the thesis frequently looks for parallels outside cinema as a means of illustrating key ideas. Ultimately, this thesis aims to increase the balance of the discussion on the subject of white masculine crisis by highlighting the first term in the phrase, and to better the understanding of contemporary British cinema in the process.


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  • Media and Film Theses

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  • doctoral

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  • eng


University of Sussex

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