Softer Masculinities

Docklands Campus

EB. 2.43

The emergence of discourses constructing the ‘new man’ and his wayward sibling, the ‘new lad’, are now firmly entrenched as subjects to be critiqued in media and cultural studies-informed teaching and research. Continuing to question how these discourses inform the performance of modern masculinities is thus central to a progressive gender politics.

This symposium will explore the extent to which heterosexual men have responded positively to the changing gender relations that inform contemporary social relations. Is it possible, for example, to identify a new form of heterosexual masculinity which is sufficiently self-reflexive not to be fearful of difference? Or are ‘straight’ men still anxious to construct and police boundaries between themselves and the queer or feminized other? And to what extent are men’s attitudes to gender and sexuality still shaped by questions of class, ethnicity and spatial proximity?

It is free to attend this event, but pre-registration is recommended to guarantee a place. To register, or request further information, please email the symposium convenor, Andrew Branch ( and include ‘softer masculinities’ in the subject field.


Professor Eric Anderson
Eric Anderson is an American sociologist in the Department of Sport Studies at the University of Winchester. He is known for his research on sport, masculinities, sexualities and homophobia. His work has been published in dozens of academic journals and is regularly featured in the popular press. His work shows an increasingly positive relationship between gay male athletes and sport, as well as a growing movement of young heterosexual men’s masculinity becoming softer and more inclusive. Professor Anderson also researches matters related to men’s monogamy/cheating and men’s improving recognition of bisexuality. He has written eight books, many of them award winners and best sellers.

Eric will be talking about the increased acceptance of young heterosexual men kissing.

Dr Andrew Branch
Andrew Branch teaches media and cultural theory in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of East London. His recent research has focused on how working-class aspirant men have made use of popular music formations, in which a more feminized masculinity is articulated, in order to differentiate them from a masculinity perceived to be more entrenched and thus unmodern.

Andrew will be examining the ambiguities and contradictions of classed masculinities in the work of the musician, broadcaster and ‘national treasure’, Jarvis Cocker.

Dr Stephen Maddison
Stephen Maddison is Principal Lecturer in Cultural Studies at the University of East London. He is the author of Fags, Hags and Queer Sisters: Gender Dissent and Heterosocial Bonds in Gay Culture (Macmillan & St. Martin’s Press, 2000), and has published work on the cultural politics of sexuality in a number of journals and edited collections. He has published essays on pornography in New Formations and Topia: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies, and in three new collections, Mainstreaming Sex: The Sexualisation of Culture (IB Tauris), Online Pornography (Peter Lang), and Hard to Swallow (Wallflower) and is working on a monograph entitled The Myth of Porn. He co-runs the website

Stephen will be discussing the themes of ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ in the output of the pornographer, John Stagliano.

Dr Mark McCormack
Mark McCormack is a sociologist at Brunel University who uses qualitative methods to examine the construction of masculinities and sexualities among young men in educational and sporting settings. His recent research has examined how a zeitgeist of decreasing homophobia impacts on the gendered behaviours of young heterosexual men and the school experiences of LGBT youth. His latest monograph, The Declining Significance of Homophobia: How Teenage Boys are Redefining Masculinity and Heterosexuality (New York: Oxford University Press) will be published shortly.

Mark will speak about his latest research, which develops some of the themes he discussed with Laurie Taylor during his recent appearance on Radio 4’s Thinking Allowed.

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