Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Humanities and Cultural Studies

Major Professor

Daniel Belgrad, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Cheryl Rodriguez, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Andrew Berish, Ph.D.


social construction, working class, gender performance, psychoanalytic criticism


This thesis considers mid-20th century portrayals of working-class longshoremen’s masculinity within the context of emerging middle-class gender constructions. I argue that although popular culture presents a roughly standardized depiction of longshoremen as “manly men,” these portrayals are significantly nuanced to demonstrate the difficulties working-class men faced as they attempted to navigate socio-cultural and socio-economic shifts related to class and the performance of their male gender. Specifically, I consider depictions of longshoremen’s disruptive masculinity, male identity formation, and masculine-male growth as reactions to paradigmatic shifts in American masculinity. Using three aspects of longshoremen’s non-work lives presented in A View from the Bridge, “Edge of the City,” and “On the Waterfront”—the house, the home, and leisure/recreational activity—I ground discussions of the longshoremen’s negotiation of masculinity within a conceptual framework based in masculinity studies, social construction, and psychoanalytic criticism. To both complement and supplement the core literary and cultural analyses presented in this text, oral history interviews have been included to provide a contextual basis for understanding longshoremen culture in the 1950s.