Honors Projects


Evan KellyFollow


This research examines the constructions of masculinity within the films of Joel and Ethan Coen. Through textual analysis of three film, Raising Arizona (1987), Fargo (1996), and The Big Lebowski (1998), three key themes emerge: masculinity as performance, children and family as ego extensions, toxic masculinity personified, and children and redemption through rejection of hegemonic masculinity. Comprehensively, the paper seeks to prove the Coens uniquely construct masculinity as a performance which can override public policy and interpersonal prosperity. This research serves several functions. First, it recasts the Coens as cutting-edge progressive filmmakers, despite their protestations to the contrary. What we have found are consistently strong critiques of conservative politicians. Second, by revealing the depth of thought put into these films, it justifies the Coens’ status as genuine auteurs. Finally, we gain insight into the Coens’ prescriptive views on “proper” masculine performance. They encourage viewers to shed hegemonic masculinity in favor of authentic self-performance.


Honors Program



First Advisor

Dr. Becca Cragin

First Advisor Department

Popular Culture

Second Advisor

Dr. Heath A. Diehl

Second Advisor Department

Honors Program

Publication Date

Spring 4-30-2017