Date of Award
College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, English and Literary Arts
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.
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Leslie Anne Jennings
Received from author
Jennings, Leslie Anne, "She Had to be Bad: The Femme Fatale in Hard-Boiled Detective Fiction and Film Noir" (2013). Restricted Access ETDs. 52.