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John Wayne, Transnational Masculinity and Hollywood’s Globalization in the 1950s
MRIC 2012/13

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“John Wayne, Transnational Masculinity and Hollywood’s Globalization in the 1950s”

Russell Meeuf
Clinical Assistant Professor, Journalism and Mass Media
November 13
Aurora Room, UI Commons- 12:30 p.m.

Abstract:Often considered the embodiment of a patriotic, conservative, American masculinity, John Wayne was also perhaps the most visible icon of cinematic manhood around the world.  Starting in the late 1940s, Wayne became not only one of Hollywood’s most bankable performers in the US but also one of the most popular international movie stars, with huge fan bases in Europe, Japan, Australia, South America, and parts of Africa.  Wayne’s international circulation, then, exemplifies the increasing globalization of the major Hollywood studios in the decades after World War II and the role that U.S. popular culture played in reshaping international constructions of gender and identity.  After all, Wayne’s rise to international prominence in the 1950s coincided with massive economic and cultural shifts within the US film industry as declining domestic attendance pushed the industry to further internationalize its operations.

All the while, U.S. foreign policy and modernization theory optimistically promoted new policies and discourses of global trade and modern identity.  Far from a simple icon of American patriotism, John Wayne was one of the most globally-visible models of modern manhood and subjectivity within Hollywood’s international projection of modernity and capitalism.  Examining a range of issues still relevant to global media today, from cultural globalization, to runaway production, to the role that Hollywood plays in international constructions of gender, this presentation explores the international history of a star who has been stubbornly defined only in the context of U.S. national culture.

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