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Title: Signs of transgression : the representation of women who kill in contemporary Hollywood films
Author: Doyle, Isabelle
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2000
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In my thesis I argue that the representation of women who kill is a construction of female identity that serves patriarchal ideology. Hollywood films are ideally suited for examining the contradictory representations of the violent, transgressive woman. My introduction establishes the link between the cultural ideals of womanhood and those systems of representation that denigrate women who do not conform. Chapter One, a discussion of the relationship between women and crime, is a exploration of the meaning of the 'transgressive woman', using instances of true crime, film and images from the media. I discuss how these representations support the view of women in patriarchal ideology, and why the existence of women who kill is seen as socially and morally disruptive. The following four chapters deal with one film in detail. Chapter Two reviews the reactions to Thelma and Louise (Ridley Scott, 1991) and discusses the film as potentially subversive in a male-identified genre closely associated with lawbreaking and criminality. Chapter Three on Single White Female (Barbet Schroeder, 1992) looks at the film in terms of its multifarious generic legacies. It . examines the two women characters as expressions of the problems of representing femininity in the genres of gothic and horror. Chapter Four looks at the role of the wife in recent Hollywood film. Using The Hand that Rocks the Cradle (Curtis Hanson, 1991), I examine the role of the wife as a figure who has the potential both to uphold and disrupt the nuclear family. Finally, Chapter Five is an analysis of Jurassic Park (Stephen Spielberg, 1993) that reveals that the film, while appearing to uphold family and paternal values, also provides a progressive and radical view of sex and gender.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available