Date of Award

Winter 12-2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in American Studies (MAST)

Department

Interdisciplinary Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Rebecca Hill

Second Advisor

Dr. Larrie Dudenhoeffer

Abstract

Masculinity is a culturally defined identity that exists with no single way to express it. However, the cultural politics police masculinity to appear natural and non-changing, but masculinity changes over history influenced by events and the culture from which it gets its definition. Because of this twofold influence on the identity, there is a constant struggle of the appropriate ways to express masculinity in its attempt to normalize itself by defining what is and is not masculine. This work examines how Bigfoot, the hairy fabled monster, embodies conversations about masculinity during a shift in the masculine identity in a constantly modernizing world. Bigfoot, as a cultural product, is representative of a crisis in defining masculinity in modern American culture and acts as an order to normalize the reassertion of an antiquated masculinity. Bigfoot is a temporary outlet that functions as a projection of the needs and desires men wish to release. Men will always question if they are man enough, and Bigfoot provides a collective construction of thoughts and beliefs to symbolize an escapist dream away from the house. This study seeks to understand the significance of the widespread attitudes and beliefs through the image of Bigfoot as a way to examine how people question their authenticity, place, and identity against and within society. Ultimately, this study reveals that the masculinity Bigfoot is able to represent continues to divide genders and bound sexualities, and finds men problematic for reasserting that there is a correct masculinity that marginalizes and controls.