Added: July 4, 2015 – Last updated: July 4, 2015


Author: Alexx Bonovich

Title: Masked Victims

Subtitle: Examining the Violence of Femme Fatales in Contemporary Film Noir Cinema

Thesis: M.A. Thesis, DePaul University (Abvisor: Michael DeAngelis)

Year: June 2015

Pages: vii + 115pp.

Language: English

Keywords: 20th Century, 21st Century | U.S. History | Representations: Films / Columbus Circle, Derailed, The Last Seduction


Link: Via Sapientiae: The Institutional Repository at DePaul University (Free Access)


Abstract: »This thesis examines how depictions of femininity in both neo-noir and contemporary noir cinema challenge feminist activism, conform to post-feminist ideology and perpetuate problematic depictions of sex and violence in the figure of the femme fatale. In order to understand the textual and ideological function of sex, violence, and victims characterized by women in contemporary noir cinema, this research draws on existing discourse in film and cultural studies and analyzes depictions of violent and sexualized women across genres of film and throughout popular culture. The post-modern culture represented in Hollywood films emphasizes post-feminist notions of female empowerment through individualism, subjectivity, and new ideas of sexual difference. This research is concerned with how women‘s rights are depicted through post-feminist characters masquerading as victims and subverting feminist efforts to eradicate social injustice.« (Source: Thesis)


  Acknowledgements (p. iii)
  Abstract (p. iv)
  List of Illustrations (p. vii)
  Introduction (p. 1)
    Introduction (p. 1)
    The Conventions and Characters of Noir (p. 3)
    Political Reform and the Women‘s Movement (p. 7)
    Contemporary Representations of Women in the Media (p. 8)
    A History of Violence and the Femme Fatale (p. 13)
    Chapter Outline (p. 17)
  Chapter 1: Post-Feminism and the Career Fatale (p. 20)
    The Aftermath of the Second-Wave (p. 24)
    Girl Power (p. 27)
    Eroticism, Violence, and Empowerment (p. 29)
    Case Study: The Last Seduction (1994) (p. 33)
    Conclusion (p. 42)
  Chapter 2: Taming the Femme Fatale (p. 45)
    Body Autonomy: The Phallacy of Being One of the Boys (p. 47)
    Restoring Old Gender Norms in Contemporary Noir (p. 50)
    Renegotiating Motherhood and Women‘s Reproductive Health (p. 54)
    Case Study: Derailed (2005) (p. 59)
    Conclusion (p. 68)
  Chapter 3: The Femme Fatale and Contemporary Women at Odds (p. 70)
    Greed, Glamour, and Vicious Women (p. 73)
    The Femme Fatale‘s Sexual Duplicity (p. 75)
    Recognizing the Issue of Violence (p. 80)
    Case Study: Columbus Circle (2012) (p. 82)
    Conclusion (p. 88)
  Conclusion (p. 92)
    Generic Constructions of the Femme Fatale (p. 94)
    Chapter Summary (p. 96)
    Criticism (p. 100)
  Notes (p. 104)
  Bibliography (p. 111)

Wikipedia: Columbus Circle (film), Derailed (2005 film), The Last Seduction