My private pectus : the construction of masculinities in Australian young adult fiction

Thamm, Shane Peter (2008) My private pectus : the construction of masculinities in Australian young adult fiction. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


In recent decades, male protagonists in Australian realist fiction for young adult readers have increasingly become more others-regarding, emotionally intelligent, and self-aware. (John Stephens 2000; Perry Nodelman 2002). Psychologist Roger Horrocks (1995) claims these protagonists are less “tendentious and more realistic” than male protagonists of the past. These boys, despite not bearing the hallmarks of hegemonic masculinity, develop subjective agency and ultimately propose new ways for young men to construct their gender identity.

Using Phillip Gwynne’s (1998) Deadly Unna? and David Metzenthen’s (2000) Boys of Blood and Bone as case studies, and my own novel My Private Pectus as creative practice, I explore the construction and deconstruction of hegemonic, complicit, and alternative masculinities in Australian realist young adult fiction. I also analyse the construction of the New Age Boy—a label used by John Stephens for young male protagonists who develop positive self esteem because of their perceived gender differences compared to boys of the hegemonic masculine type.

By critiquing the manner in which masculinities are constructed in each case study, and supporting my critique through the literature of leading gender theorists, I question the seemingly homogenous manner in which the New Age Boy gains agency.

This question is further explored through my creative practice, as I put into dialogue a protagonist who also recognises his gender differences, but instead of proposing a new and better masculinity, he tries to adhere to and reap the rewards of hegemonic masculinity.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 17221
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Pearce, Sharyn & Muller, Vivienne
Keywords: young adult fiction, masculinities, complicit masculinity, hegemonic masculinity, gender, new age boy, alternative masculinity, men, boys, narrative, subjective agency
Divisions: Past > Schools > Creative Writing & Literary Studies
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 23 Jan 2009 01:35
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:51

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