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USQ College Research Seminar - M*A*S*H*e*d and Harassed?

Presented by Associate Professor Susan Hopkins with an introduction by Associate Professor Marcus Harmes

Date: 19 February 2021
Time: 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Venue: Online
Contact: For more information, please contact Marcus Harmes.
Booking: Please register via HR UConnect.
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:Nurse Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan as Gendered Hate Object: An interactive extract from the forthcoming book: Essays on the Media History of Nurses and Nursing (edited by Marcus Harmes, Barbara Harmes and Meredith Harmes).

This presentation presents a feminist analysis of the television series M*A*S*H character and head nurse, Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan and applies the theoretical frameworks established by Sara Ahmed’s work on the ‘feminist killjoy’ to the gendered harassment she experiences throughout the series, and in particular in the 1972 episode ‘Requiem for a Lightweight’. In this episode, heroes ‘Hawkeye’ and ‘Trapper’ scheme to keep a favourite nurse from being transferred out of the 4077th and undermine the legitimate authority of Head Nurse Houlihan in the process through sexualised insults or ‘gags’, gendered harassment and physical pranks. The fact that Hawkeye and Trapper are constructed in these narratives as sensitive, enlightened anti-establishment heroes (and not abusers) is particularly worthy of in-depth analysis, particularly in this current socio-political, cultural and historical moment. The positioning of the ambition and determination of Head Nurse Houlihan as comic and ridiculous throughout the television series also offers insights into the cultural constructions of gendered harassment as it continues today, and thus provides a useful text for education and analysis across multiple fields of media literacy and feminist media studies.

Trigger Warning: The following seminar may include image and text references to the topic of sexual harassment and its representations in popular culture of the 1970s and 1980s. This activity is entirely optional and there is no requirement to interact with the content unless you so choose and no penalty for not attending.