Masculinity and cultural contestation in the Australian 1950s

Chelsea Barnett*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Enduring popular narratives posit the 1950s as a time of gendered oppression and conservative stability. While previous historians have pointed to the social and political changes of the period, their work has understood culture as a passive reflector of these transformations. Through analysis of four Australian films, this article argues that the contemporary cultural landscape was a dynamic space that actively negotiated between competing ideals. Exploring the representation of distinct albeit legitimate models of masculinity in these films, this article reveals the complex and unsteady gender order unfolding in the cultural world of the 1950s.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-202
Number of pages19
JournalAustralian Historical Studies
Issue number2
Early online date4 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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