Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Marina Levina

Committee Member

Tony de Velasco

Committee Member

Christina Moss

Committee Member

Kathryn Hicks


This dissertation analyzes masculinity and touch in three highly publicized cases where men intentionally interacted with wild animals and were harmed in the process. I focus predominately on the first week of media coverage following Steve The Crocodile Hunter Irwin who was killed by a massive stingray while filming for a television series off the Great Barrier Reef, Roy Horn of the famed Las Vegas magician duo Siegfried and Roy who was mauled by one of his performing tigers in front of a live audience, and Antoine Yates, an African American man bitten by the pet tiger he kept in his Harlem apartment. Drawing from studies of masculinity, gender performance, and affect, I argue that the manner in which the media represented touch as an indicator of normative masculinity influenced whether the event was portrayed as something tragic, deserved, or criminal. I contend the representation of Irwin as a white, heterosexual man privileged his status and behavior so that the loss of his life was viewed as a world-wide tragedy. Conversely, the representations of Horn and Yates constructed them as masculine failures who deserved their injuries and endangered others. These conflicting emotional elements of sadness, blame, and fear are, as Massumi (2002) argued the effect of affect and, as I argue, an affect related to representations of their masculinity. As such, the men viewed as outside the cultural norm were not only discouraged from participating in and performing manhood acts associated with white, straight men, they were also culpable for any injuries they (or others) incurred while attempting to do so.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest