Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


English & Film Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Jane Campbell

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


This thesis undertakes to show the way in which texts of the genre of hard-boiled detective fiction can encourage a feminist attitude in their readers. While some critics insist that the hard-boiled genre is incompatible with feminism due to what they believe is its inherent misogyny, there are a number who have argued eloquently to the contrary. This thesis is not so much concerned with proving the compatibility of feminism with the hard-boiled genre, as it is with showing, through the examination of specific strategies of particular texts, that hard-boiled texts by women authors not only allow a feminist sensibility in their readers but even encourage it. The theoretical framework for the study is provided by Wolfgang Iser’s theory of aesthetic response which explains how literary work is produced by the interaction between the text and the reader. This study examines several particular strategies used by texts to direct (but not to determine) the response of their readers. The first strategy is the genre itself, including those elements of structure inherent in it. The second is the use of gaps and negations in guiding the readers' response. The third strategy is the different perspectives provided by the characters in the text for the consideration of readers. Finally the study examines the direct discussion in the texts of issues important to feminists.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season