Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Kate Hausbeck

Number of Pages



This research examines mainstream representations and imagery of violent women in American cinema in a broad sense, and looks more specifically at the sociological relevance of the contemporary filmic action heroine. This research is not interpretive in nature but instead draws upon original data gained from an extensive content analysis spanning a 15-year period from 1991 to 2005. In addition, the research includes secondary source data gathered from movie industry statistics and industry reports in order to provide an empirically descriptive analysis of violent female action characters in contemporary American film; While many feminist film theorists argue that female action characters are empowering representations who breakdown traditional gender barriers by exhibiting both masculine and feminine characteristics, this research argues that upon closer inspection these representations and images actually reinforce traditional gender norms, roles, and values by subscribing to dominant social codes in order to be successful at the box office. The data derived from the content analysis and secondary sources point toward shifting business strategies, evolving production processes, and technological advances of the movie industry itself that have played a major part in the formation of contemporary female action characters produced for mass consumption.


Action; Action Heroine; Contemporary; Film; Gender; Heroine; Relevance; Sociological; Violent; Women

Controlled Subject

Sociology; Motion pictures--Study and teaching; Women's studies

File Format


File Size

5201.92 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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