Term of Award

Spring 2017

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (M.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Literature and Philosophy

Committee Chair

Douglass Thomson

Committee Member 1

Candy Schille

Committee Member 2

Timothy Whelan


This project seeks to explore female monstrosity, specifically the femme fatale, in Gothic literature and its reflection of the shifting gender norms of the nineteenth century. The late 1790s experienced a distinct narrowing of female gender roles. While authors like Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Hays publish during the eighteenth century, a backlash against such feminist voices took hold as a resurgence of spheres ideology and more traditional gender norms came into vogue. This particular shift in attitudes towards female gender norms is reflected in Scottish poet Anne Bannerman’s work as well as English novelist Charlotte Dacre’s Zofloya. Both authors’s works exhibit early inquiries into female gender roles and express anxiety about the negative impact they had upon society as a whole. Their femme fatales demonstrate the contradictory and destructive nature of gender roles at the beginning of the nineteenth century, but neither author appears able to articulate any solution to those issues. Bram Stoker’s Dracula at the close of the nineteenth century utilizes the same femme fatale trope, yet Mina Harker exhibits more constructive capabilities than her terrifying predecessors.

Research Data and Supplementary Material