The Construction of Hegemonic Masculinity in Alan Bennett's The History Boys
The view of gender as a versatile social construct rather than a fixed attribute determined by biology has been the most prominent approach to gender studies since the late 20th century. It has set up the basis for the perception of gender as a performance that is influenced by various aspects of society and culture, through which hegemonic ideas of gender identity are maintained. This dissertation examines the representations of hegemonic masculinity in Alan Bennett's (1934- ) The History Boys (2004), incorporating Michel Foucault's (1926 - 1984) theories of biopower alongside with the works of gender theorists such as Raewyn Connell (1944- ). The aim of this close textual analysis is to explore and discuss how the concept of masculinity is constructed and governed through social relationships between men, and how these interactions and influences shape their personal identities. By the inclusion of Foucault's idea of biopower, this dissertation is able to examine the roles of the restrictions and expectations men themselves place upon other men both personally and through cultural and social institutions such as schools, suggesting that hegemonic masculinity is constantly and actively maintained through processes that are conducted both consciously and unconsciously.