The Violent Woman

Femininity, Narrative, and Violence in Contemporary American Cinema

By Hilary Neroni

Subjects: Women's Studies, Film Studies, Feminist
Series: SUNY series in Feminist Criticism and Theory
Paperback : 9780791463840, 218 pages, April 2005
Hardcover : 9780791463833, 218 pages, April 2005

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Table of contents




Part One: The Development and Background of the Filmic Violent Woman

1. Complementarity and Its Discontents: An Overview of Violent Women in American Film

2. Expressions of Masculinity: The Traditions of Violence in American Film

3. Female Murderers: America's Recurring Nightmare

Part Two: The Violent Woman on the Contemporary Screen

4. Romancing Trauma: The Violent Woman in Contemporary American Film

5. Violent Women in Love

6. Femininity on the Front Line: Portrayals of Violent Women in Recent Military Films

7. Conclusion: The Long Kiss Goodnight



Looks at how violent women characters disrupt cinematic narrative and challenge cultural ideals.


In The Violent Woman, Hilary Neroni brings psychoanalytically informed film theory to bear on issues of femininity, violence, and narrative in contemporary American cinema. Examining such films as Thelma and Louise, Fargo, Natural Born Killers, and The Long Kiss Goodnight, Neroni explores why American audiences are so fascinated—even excited—by cinematic representations of violent women, and what these representations reveal about violence in our society and our cinema. Neroni argues that violent women characters disrupt cinematic narrative and challenge cultural ideals, suggesting how difficult it is for Hollywood—the greatest of ideology machines—to integrate the violent woman into its typical narrative structure.

Hilary Neroni is Associate Professor of English at the University of Vermont.