ACS Virtual Lecture Series talk - The Boys Who Look: Previewing Masculinities through Boyhoods on Screen

VIRTUAL, 23. September 2021.

ACS Virtual Lecture Series talk, September 23:

Timothy Laurie – The Boys Who Look: Previewing Masculinities through Boyhoods on Screen

Dear colleagues,

The Association for Cultural Studies (ACS) would like to invite you to an upcoming talk in its Virtual Lecture Series, by Timothy Laurie (followed by a Q&A), titled The Boys Who Look: Previewing Masculinities through Boyhoods on Screen, which will take place September 23rd, 5 PM AEST (GMT +10) (more information underneath).

For more information and to register for this free event, visit:

Timothy Laurie (University of Technology Sydney) – The Boys Who Look: Previewing Masculinities through Boyhoods on Screen
September 23rd 2021
5-6 PM AEST/ Australian Eastern Standard Time (GMT +10)

Contemporary boys studies has sought to navigate paths between multiple competing figures of the boyhood, including the boy “at risk” of failure or delinquency, especially within educational and policy discourses; the expressive or creative boy, who promises to departure from inherited gendered roles and expectations; and the boy as precursor to the man-to-come, viewed from the perspective of diverse adult masculinities. Between these figures, an exclusive focus on creative boys can risk neglecting the patterned social dynamics that reproduce gendered hierarchies and inequalities, while the over-emphasis on boys as men-to-come can risk dissolving the specificities of childhood and youth altogether.

This paper examines these issues through another kind of boy produced most often through cinema: the boy as witness. In particular, Australian cinema contains a multitude of stories in which boys learn lessons about gender through looking. From Australian Rules (2002) and Romulus, My Father (2007) to recent historical dramas The True History of the Kelly Gang (2019) and High Ground (2020), boys acquire privileged knowledge about gendered embodiment, and often gendered violence, through secretive watching. In this way, boyhood can assume two interrelated functions in cinema: the boy as the figure of innocence against the spectacle of men gone bad; and the boy as a proxy eye for the viewer, offering a point-of-view easily coloured by naivete, curiosity, and play. This double-function allows cinema to engage critically with scenes of violence that may otherwise have been considered overly voyeuristic.

However, these boys who look are not all the same, and these films make very different choices about what boys can see and know. In this paper, I argue that the looking relations sustained by these cinematic boys provide important opportunities to reflect on the role of feminist theory, and especially frameworks developed in feminist film studies, to inform the emerging priorities of boys studies. In doing so, I want to provide a novel viewpoint on problems of perceived boyhood innocence that persist within – and perhaps, remain endemic to – the development of boys studies as a scholarly project.

Bio: Timothy Laurie is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Communication at the University of Technology Sydney. Timothy’s current research is focused on Australian boys and cinema, as part of his role as a Chief Investigator on the Australia Research Council grant “Australian Boys: Beyond the Boy Problem” (2021-2023). Timothy has recently co-authored The Theory of Love: Ideals, Limits, Futures (Palgrave, 2021) with Hannah Stark, and co-edited Unsettled Voices: Beyond Free Speech in the Late Liberal Era (Routledge, 2021) with Tanja Dreher and Michael Griffiths. Timothy is also a Managing Editor for Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies and the Graduate Research Coordinator in the School of Communication at UTS.


Founded in 2002, the ACS aims at forming and promoting an effective worldwide community of cultural studies. It is intended as a tool for building strong interdisciplinary and transnational connections by offering meaningful meeting places for the great diversity of committed scholars in this field. The Virtual Lecture Series, launched in May 2021, is an ongoing programme of online presentations by cutting-edge cultural studies theorists and practitioners and serves as a way to keep establishing these connections when we are no longer able to easily meet in person. If you would like to support the association’s work by becoming a member (which enables us to continue to organise events like these), you can do so here:

Future VLS talks (more details TBA):

October — Natalija Majsova (University of Ljubljana)

November — Lisa Daily (New York University)

December — João Florêncio (University of Exeter)

January 2022 — Angela Okune (University of California)

February — Mehdi Semati (Northern Illinois University)

March — Mark Anthony Neal (Duke University)

April — Danai Mupotsa (University of the Witwatersrand)

May — Gisela Canepa Koch (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú)

June — Megan Wood (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

For questions and comments, please contact

On behalf of the ACS,
Evgenia Amey
Administrative Secretary
Association for Cultural Studies