Heroines of Film and Television
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Heroines of Film and Television

Portrayals in Popular Culture
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Norma Jones
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Despite the increasing variety of heroic women portrayed in film, television, and other popular culture channels, much of the understanding of heroines has been limited to females as versions of male heroes or simple stereotypes of overly weak/strong (and even violent) women. This book analyzes the new vision of female heroes in popular culture. It features award-winning authors from a variety of disciplines, broadening our understanding of how heroines are portrayed, as well as how these important popular culture representations both simultaneously empower and/or constrain real life women.
As portrayals of heroic women gain ground in film, television, and other media, their depictions are breaking free of females as versions of male heroes or simple stereotypes of acutely weak or overly strong women. Although heroines continue to represent the traditional roles of mothers, goddesses, warriors, whores, witches, and priestesses, these women are no longer just damsels in distress or violent warriors.

Heroines of Film and Television: Portrayals in Popular Culture, award-winning authors from a variety of disciplines examine the changing roles of heroic women across time. In this volume, editors Norma Jones, Maja Bajac-Carter, and Bob Batchelor have assembled a collection of essays that broaden our understanding of how heroines are portrayed across media, offering readers new ways to understand, perceive, and think about women. Contributors bring fresh readings to popular films and television shows such as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Kill Bill, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Weeds, Mad Men, and Star Trek.

The representations and interpretations of these heroines are important reflections of popular culture that simultaneously empower and constrain real life women. These essays help readers gain a more complete understanding of female heroes, especially as related to race, gender, power, and culture. A companion volume to
Heroines of Comic Books and Literature, this collection will appeal to academics and broader audiences that are interested in women in popular culture.


I. Heroines on Television

Chapter 1: The Erotic Heroine and the politics of gender at work: A feminist reading of Mad Men’s Joan Harris, Suzy D’Enbeau and Patrice M. Buzzanell

Chapter 2: Burn One Down: Nancy Botwin as (Post)Feminist (Anti)Heroine, Katie Snyder

Chapter 3: Choosing Her “Fae”te: Subversive Sexuality and Lost Girl’s Re/evolutionary Female Hero, Jennifer K. Stuller

II. Heroines on Film

Chapter 4: Torture, Rape, Action Heroines and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Jeffrey A. Brown

Chapter 5: The Maternal Hero in Tarantino’s Kill Bill, Maura Grady

Chapter 6: We’ve Seen this Deadly Web Before: Repackaging Femme Fatale & Representing Superhero(in)e as Neo-noir ‘Black Widow’ in Sin City, Ryan Castillo and Katie Gibson

Chapter 7: Romance, Comedy, Conspiracy: The Paranoid Heroine in Contemporary Romantic Comedy, Pedro Ponce

Chapter 8: Conflicted Hybridity: Negotiating the Warrior Princess Archetype in Willow, Cassandra Bausman

Chapter 9: The Woman Who Fell From the Sky: Cowboys and Aliens’ Hybrid Heroine, Cynthia J. Miller

III. Diversity Concerns

Chapter 10: Her Story, Too: Final Fantasy X, Revolutionary Girl Utena, and the Feminist Hero's Journey, Catherine Bailey Kyle

Chapter 11: Bollywood Marriages: Portrayals of Matrimony in Hindi Popular Cinema, Rekha Sharma and Carol A. Savery

Chapter 12: The Enduring Woman: Race, Revenge, and Self-Determination in Chloe, Love is Calling You, Robin R. Means Coleman

Chapter 13: The Dark, Twisted Magical Girls: Shōjo Heroines in Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Lien Fan Shen

IV: Heroines across Media

Chapter 14: Women on the Quarterdeck: The Female Captain as Adventure Hero, 1994-2009, A. Bowdoin Van Riper

Chapter 15: The Girl Who Lived: Reading Harry Potter as a Sacrificial and Loving Heroine, Norma Jones

Chapter 16: “It’s About Power and It’s About Women”: Gender and the Political Economy of Superheroes in Wonder Woman and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Carolyn Cocca


About the Contributors

About the Editors