Dressing Both Sides: American Masculinity in the Films of Fred Astaire Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
Creator
  • Vinogradov, Oren
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Music
Abstract
  • This thesis considers the construction of a particularly American masculinity portrayed on film by Fred Astaire. I analyze two case studies, Top Hat (RKO, 1935) and Silk Stockings (MGM, 1957). By considering the interactions of musical and visual elements, I argue that the mythologies and nostalgia which have permeated scholarship on Astaire simplify his socio-economic identity in their interpretations of Astaire's gender performance. I reinterpret Astaire's song and dance numbers as overt references to a complex nexus of masculinity, American nationalism, and middle-class consumption, based on his relationships to surrounding depictions of foreign males. The persistence of this nexus contradicts Astaire's post-mortem image as ambiguously masculine. In light of each film's contexts, the determination of Astaire's roles as a repetitive character presents new avenues for critical research into sequential films from early Hollywood.
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  • In Copyright
Advisor
  • Carter, Tim
Degree
  • Master of Arts
Graduation year
  • 2013
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