Symbiosis International University Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts

Cinema, Masculinity and Culture

 Brief Overview 

If cinema has been the dominant cultural expression of the last century, masculinity is often the prism through which cinematic narratives unravel themselves. On one hand, the masculine desires shape the figure of the individual hero or the idealized male spectator through the cinematic aesthetic, the cinematic image has also shaped the forms of masculinity in society.

This course explores various manifestations of masculinity as seen in popular Hollywood and Indian cinema. It will offer students a fresh look at questions that have perturbed film scholars and social theorists including ‘his’torians. Students will read through theoretical texts about patriarchy, feminism and queer theory in relation to cinema.

 Course Objectives 

  • To introduce students to basic concepts of patriarchy, femininity, masculinity and feminism in the larger context of culture.
  • To equip students with critical perspectives on watching/participating/ responding to popular culture.
  • To discuss the relevance of political/feminist/radical film theory as a response to various manifestations of patriarchy in the society.
  • To help students understand critically the role of representation and narrative in cinema 

 Teaching Methodology 

  • Discussion based lectures which will allow the students to bring their own experiences/ responses to class
  • Reading critical and theoretical texts with attention to detail will help students to familiarize themselves with a variety of ideas and ideologies.
  • Film screenings as a part of classroom activity followed by discussions and debates. 



 Course Outline 





Theories of Feminism, Femininity and Masculinity

o   Exploring Patriarchy

o   Early Challenges to Patriarchy

o   Feminism- history and concept

o   Feminist film theory

o   Introduction to Femininity and Masculinity

o   Masculinity Studies and cinema



Classical Hollywood cinema and the individual male

o  Introduction and Concepts of the individual protagonist

o  The male ego

o  Westerns

o  Alfred Hitchcock



Hollywood Film Noir and the crisis of Masculinity

o   What is film noir?

o   Femme fatale and the doomed hero



Melodrama and Women’s Film

o   Understanding Melodrama

o   Hollywood and World War II

o   Douglas Sirk, Melodrama and Women



Contemporary Hollywood

  • The Hollywood blockbuster and the buddy phenomenon
  • Tarantino, race and masculinity



Contemporary Hollywood

  • The Hollywood blockbuster and the buddy phenomenon
  • Tarantino, race and masculinity



Hindi Cinema and the Angry Young Man

  •  Men in Hindi cinema
  • The phenomenon of Helen
  • 1970s and the Emergence of Amitabh Bachchan



Post Liberalisation Indian Cinema

  • Emergence of the metrosexual hero
  • The masculine body and action cinema
  • Crime and the male hero
  • Women, crime and heroism
  • ‘Queer’ing the normative sexuality