In the Shadow of the Vamp: Representations of Female Violence and Aggression in Joyce Carol Oates's Fiction

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Title: In the Shadow of the Vamp: Representations of Female Violence and Aggression in Joyce Carol Oates's Fiction
Author: Weissberg, Sarah Buker
Advisors: Dr. Barbara Bennett, Committee Chair
Dr. Sheila Smith McKoy, Committee Member
Dr. Jon Thompson, Committee Member
Abstract: Recently, feminist scholars have become interested in demystifying female initiated aggression and violence and in examining how women experience, express, and understand their own aggression. This study considers how author Joyce Carol Oates has contributed to that particular line of inquiry by publishing four specific short stories: 'The Vampire,' 'Lover,' 'Gun Love,' and 'Secret, Silent.' Chapter 1 of this thesis defines the archetype of the Lethal Woman, an archetype which embodies negative cultural conceptions of female violence and aggression. This chapter identifies Lethal Women figures from folklore, fiction, and film throughout the ages and then examines 'The Vampire,' a story in which Oates exposes the sexism and androcentric motives behind the ongoing creation and reinforcement of the Lethal Woman archetype. Chapter 2 focuses on the stories 'Lover,' 'Gun Love,' and 'Secret, Silent' and discusses how in these works, Oates explores the psychological impulses behind female initiated violence, passive aggression, and other subversive methods utilized by women for handling their aggression. This second chapter also contrasts Oates's depictions of female violence/aggression against depictions of female violence/aggression in the contemporary popular media and concludes that Oates's stories offer a refreshingly realistic alternative to historical and contemporary Lethal Woman narratives.
Date: 2005-07-27
Degree: MA
Discipline: English
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/833


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