Kiss Me Deadly: Gender Play in Hardboiled Fiction
The New School NLIT3832
The cynical private eye, the gritty urban underbelly, the inevitable double-cross at the hands of a beautiful woman—these are a few of the conventions that define American hardboiled fiction. This course focuses on two of the genre’s most persistent archetypes: the tough guy hero (or anti-hero) and the glamorous femme fatale who threatens to lead him to his doom. We examine this fraught relationship through the lens of the gender and sexual anxieties characteristic of both the genre and the historical context of 1930s–1950s America, including changing definitions of masculinity and femininity as the culture moves from women entering the workforce during WWII through Cold War notions of family and domesticity.
* Available at NYU Bobst, 2nd Floor,
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