Masculinity and the Metropolis: An Interdisciplinary Conference on Art History, Film, and Literature

Call for papers

University of Kent, 22nd – 23rd April 2016

This interdisciplinary conference, hosted by the University of Kent, takes as its starting point the range of complex and contradictory engagements between masculinity and the developing metropolis since the beginning of the twentieth century. Throughout this period the metropolis maintained a paradoxical status as a place of liberation and possibility, but simultaneously as one of alienation, sin, and oppression. What do responses to the modern city in visual art, film, and literature tell us about masculinity as it both asserts itself and registers its own anxieties, and subsequent representations of the city? In what ways do these contrasting positive and negative conditions, which encouraged complex responses, fit within the framework of masculinity?

In the wake of industrialization artistic reactions to modern urbanity were spurred on by the rapid growth of cities and the transition from rural to metropolitan living. This caused socio-cultural changes and a diverse range of masculinities to develop within the metropolis in terms of race, class, and sexualities. How has masculinity been visualized with the construction of this modern cityscape and ideas of the urban? And later in the 20th Century, how did artists registering with ideas of deindustrialization or feminist and queer art forms affect or approach theories of masculinity and the urban? Can we construct an overarching lineage on this relationship? As one starting point, the so-called “crisis of masculinity”, and the way it is represented in various media, can be connected in interesting ways to the rise of the metropolis. This conference will bring together scholars from varying fields in order to begin a dialogue regarding the way theories of masculinity and the metropolis have developed in tandem, charting their evolution from the beginning of the 20th Century to the present day. Scholars with diverse interests and approaches to this broad subject are welcome with papers concerning various media within the 20th and 21st centuries.

Examples of subjects invited for submission include, but are in no way limited to:

  • Representations of the male and masculinity in metropolitan society within literature, film, and fine art. Contributions from theatre, and music are also welcome.
  • Male as artist or witness to the evolving physical cityscape
  • Modern and contemporary responses to 19th Century representations of industrialisation and the urban / de-industrialization and the changing nature of the urban and the masculine
  • The metropolis as a milieu of capitalist oppression, and how this can be related to masculinity
  • Urban photography and the metropolitan male identity
  • Masculine national identities within the cityscape
  • Masculinity and the nocturnal city
  • The modern or contemporary flâneur
  • Cityscape planning and the organization of male spaces
  • Destruction of the city and the crisis of masculinity
  • The male Superhero
  • Masculinities and sexualities within the metropolis
  • Depictions of the urban male and race
  • The relationship of masculinity to musical sub-cultures / the protest song and music as social commentary
  • Feminist, gay, and / or trans artistic reactions to masculinity and the urban
  • Masculinity and dramatic performance within the metropolis

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Deborah Longworth, University of Birmingham

Dr. Hamilton Carroll, University of Leeds

Dr. Gabriel Koureas, Birkbeck, University of London

Submission process
We invite submissions of short abstracts (300 words) accompanied by a brief biography (100 words). The time slot for presentations is 20 minutes with a 10 minute session for questions at the end of each panel.

Please send your abstract as an attachment (.pdf or .doc) to:

The subject of the email should contain the words: “Masculinity and the Metropolis submission”

The body of the email should include author(s) name, affiliation, abstract title and the email address you would like us to use to communicate with you.

Deadline for submissions: 20 December 2015.
Notification of acceptance/non-acceptance: 26 January 2016.


Postgraduate students / University of Kent Staff and Students: £10
Other researchers: £20


Premier Inn

Abode Canterbury

The Falstaff Hotel

All hotels are in city centre, a 10-20 minute bus, or 10 minute taxi ride from the University.

Registration will be required prior to the conference. Registration opens on the 1st of March 2016. Details on how to register will follow in due course.



James Finch, History of Art

Hannah Huxley, Centre for American Studies

Sara Janssen, Film

Margaret Schmitz, History of Art

With a special thanks to our sponsors: The University of Kent’s History of Art and Visual Cultures Research Centre, Aesthetics Research Centre and the Centre for Film and Media Research.