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Title: Ethnicity, masculinity, and the representation of Italian-American men in 70s Hollywood
Author: Christodoulou, Stylianos
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2013
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ABSTRACT: Hollywood in the 70s turned its gaze with fascination at the representation of Italian American men, who feature in some of the decade's most popular and profitable films. This thesis attempts to explain the appeal of these representations by situating them within the overlapping discourses on ethnicity and masculinity circulating in mainstream American culture. From an incontestable privilege for most of American history, white masculinity became an increasingly problematic and guilt-ridden identity in the 70s, largely due to the growing cultural centrality of feminism and the civil rights movement. In this context, Italian-American men appeared to possess a certain advantage. The 70s ethnic revival movement reclaimed hyphenated ident it ies out of the assimilationist melting pot and advocated a guilt-free shade of whit eness for the descendants of earlier Italian immigrants. Hollywood films invested in the perceived advantages of Italian-American masculinity and used them as vehicles for satisfying the desires and appeasing the anxieties of middle class, heterosexual, WASP men. The hyphen created a fruitfully ambiguous space for simultaneously exorcizing and embra cing ethnic masculinity; for affirming the new liberal mores of WASP America, while fostering the fantasy of white masculine privilege. The thesis develops this argument through a historically informed study of the representation of Italian-American men in The Godfather, Saturday Night Fever, and Rocky. These films appropriate the familiar stereotypes of the Italian-American man as Mafioso, Palooka, and Guido to revive older masculine models, situate them within hybrid versions of the 70s, and render them plausible, believable, and appealing.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available