Men at work: masculinity, work and class in King of the Coral Sea

Chelsea Barnett*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In the aftermath of Second World War and in the beginning years of the Cold War, newly elected Prime Minister Robert Menzies reaffirmed the institutional relationship between masculinity and breadwinning that also spoke to a specific national ideal. In accordance with the 'national narrative of work', this article looks to historicise the relationship between historically specific understandings of gender and work, and how that relationship was represented in the 1954 Australian film King of the Coral Sea. Based around the pearling industry in the Torres Strait, the film's narrative shows the introduction of new technology and the management of the workplace; both these representations functioned in accordance with post-war middle-class values. This article argues that King of the Coral Sea's engagement with gendered ideals of work and class not only carries specific national meanings but also had broader implications for understandings of masculinity in the context of the Australian 1950s.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-67
Number of pages9
JournalMedia International Australia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


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