Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in English



First Committee Member

Evelyn Gajowski, Chair

Second Committee Member

Stephen Brown

Third Committee Member

Megan Becker-Leckrone

Graduate Faculty Representative

Marta Meana

Number of Pages



My dissertation is an exploration of how femininity is constructed in the characters of warrior women. I define and apply my theory of believable femininity: the notion that in order for characters gendered female to be accepted by an audience, specific textual markers must render them submissive to a dominating male figure. I examine the following warrior women at length: Britomart and Radigund from Spenser's The Faerie Queene; Christine de Pizan's treatment of Amazons in her Book of the City of Ladies and Hippolyta's specific portrayal by de Pizan in comparison to Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, and the modern recreation of Hippolyta in DC Comics' Wonder Woman series; Joan of Arc as she appears in Shakespeare's 1 Henry VI and Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan; the figure of Wonder Woman herself as a comic book and cultural phenomenon. My purpose is to illuminate what I feel is an unexamined requirement in warrior women that their strength always be subsumed by their femininity.


Believable femininity; Early modern; Shakespeare; Spenser; Wonder Woman


American Popular Culture | Comparative Literature | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Literature in English, British Isles | Literature in English, North America | Medieval Studies