University of Kentucky
Palumbo, Allison P.
STRONG, INDEPENDENT, AND IN LOVE: FIGHTING FEMALE FANTASIES IN POPULAR CULTURE.
Degree: 2016, University of Kentucky
During the late 1970s and 1980s, feminist critics like Janice Radway began to reconsider so-called women’s genres, like romance novels and soap operas and melodramas, in order to address the forms of subversion and expressions of agency they provided female audiences. However, in spite of greater willingness to consider the progressive potential in romance narratives, there has been little such consideration given to stories of romance for the fighting female character—defined as a protagonist who uses violence, via her body or weapons, to save herself and others. The fighting female has received a good deal of attention from critics like Yvonne Tasker, Sherrie Inness, Rikke Schubart, and Phillipa Gates because she enacts transgressive forms of femininity. However, the typical response has been to ignore the intimate or romantic relationships she has with men or to critique them based on the assumption that such hetero-relationships automatically limit her agency and attenuate her representation as a feminist-friendly heroine. This view presumes that female empowerment opposes or can only be imagined outside the dominant cultural narratives that generally organize women’s lives around their hetero-relationships—whether sexual or platonic, familial or vocational.
As I argue, some fighting female relationship narratives merit our attention because they reveal a new cache of plausible empowered female identities that women negotiate through their intimacies and romances with men. These negotiations, in turn, enable innovative representations of male-female relationships that challenge long-standing cultural scripts about the nature of dominance and subordination in such relationships. Combining cultural analysis with close readings of key popular American film and television texts since the 1980s, my dissertation argues that certain fighting female relationship themes question regressive conventions in male-female intimacies and reveal potentially progressive ideologies regarding female agency in mass culture. In essence, certain fighting female relationship narratives project feminist-friendly love fantasies that reassure audiences of the desirability of empowered women while also imagining egalitarian intimacies that further empower women.
Subjects/Keywords: Fighting Females; Heterosexual Relationships in Popular Culture; Empowered Female Identity; Power and Intimacy; “Strong; Independent Woman” Archetype; American Film Studies; American Popular Culture; English Language and Literature; Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Other Film and Media Studies; Women's Studies
to Zotero / EndNote / Reference
APA (6th Edition):
Palumbo, A. P. (2016). STRONG, INDEPENDENT, AND IN LOVE: FIGHTING FEMALE FANTASIES IN POPULAR CULTURE. (Doctoral Dissertation). University of Kentucky. Retrieved from https://uknowledge.uky.edu/english_etds/35
Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):
Palumbo, Allison P. “STRONG, INDEPENDENT, AND IN LOVE: FIGHTING FEMALE FANTASIES IN POPULAR CULTURE.” 2016. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Kentucky. Accessed February 19, 2020.
MLA Handbook (7th Edition):
Palumbo, Allison P. “STRONG, INDEPENDENT, AND IN LOVE: FIGHTING FEMALE FANTASIES IN POPULAR CULTURE.” 2016. Web. 19 Feb 2020.
Palumbo AP. STRONG, INDEPENDENT, AND IN LOVE: FIGHTING FEMALE FANTASIES IN POPULAR CULTURE. [Internet] [Doctoral dissertation]. University of Kentucky; 2016. [cited 2020 Feb 19].
Available from: https://uknowledge.uky.edu/english_etds/35.
Council of Science Editors:
Palumbo AP. STRONG, INDEPENDENT, AND IN LOVE: FIGHTING FEMALE FANTASIES IN POPULAR CULTURE. [Doctoral Dissertation]. University of Kentucky; 2016. Available from: https://uknowledge.uky.edu/english_etds/35