Greg Young


This paper examines the controversy surrounding the construction of the Sydney Opera House at mid-century, and the role of “absent” homosexuality in shaping the new ideals of the country as a modern nation. Australian popular culture--in this instance, the Opera House--is an example of “feminine” culture being incorporated into what had hitherto been a masculinist Australian civic identity. The public discourse surrounding the opera house reveals clear anxieties regarding gender and sexuality in Australia in the 1950s, and the inherently unstable narratives of gender and sexuality under Australian patriarchy from the 19th century onwards. Henning Bech’s notion of “absent homosexuality” is the core theoretical perspective utilized in this analysis of mass-mediated political and public discourses surrounding the design and construction of the Sydney Opera House. This paper suggests that the process of including the culturally-constructed feminine realm of “the arts” into its otherwise masculinist civic identity was closely connected to the nation’s desire to project itself as a modern metropolitan society.

Author Biography

Dr. Greg Young is Senior Lecturer in Media Communications at the University of Gloucestershire. His research interests include mass-mediated gendered identities and the performative uses of first-person media and its relationship to traditional media celebrity practices. He also has an interest in the emergence of Australian media industries and practices and Australian popular culture and their often overlooked impact upon global culture from the 1960s onwards. He completed his MA (Communications) and his PhD (Politics) at Monash University in 1996 and 2001 respectively. He left his native Australia in 2001 to take up a lectureship in the Republic of Ireland where he remained until he took up his current position in Britain in 2003.