Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, English and Literary Arts

First Advisor

Adam Rovner


Literature, Femme fatale


The character of the femme fatale exists as a highly stereotypical figure in American popular culture. Although the character’s antecedents are often located in the biblical figure of Eve, the femme fatale did not become a cultural icon until the publication of Hard-Boiled detective novels in the 1940s. The Hard-Boiled detective novel positions the femme fatale as manipulative seductress who deliberately commits murder and functions as a villain. As the character grew in popularity, the sign of the femme fatale became ubiquitously applied to any seductive woman in film, television, or other media, regardless of the whether or not the woman functions as a villain or a sex object. This dissertation asserts a specific definition of the femme fatale and locates the character in multiple popular texts while addressing the critics and scholars who reduce the femme fatale to a mere symbol of patriarchy without recognizing her power as an actantial villain.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. This work may only be accessed by members of the University of Denver community. The work is provided by permission of the author for individual research purposes only and may not be further copied or distributed. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Leslie Anne Jennings


Received from author

File Format




File Size

183 pgs