Graduation Year

2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

English

Major Professor

Phillip Sipiora

Keywords

film, identity, narrative, neorealism, noir, women

Abstract

ABSTRACT

Since the inception of cinema, women have been portrayed with the typical identities of emotionally and physically weak characters; this portrayal led to their subsequent dependence on men. Men were usually the protagonists and/or the heroes, following their archetypal journey. Thus, women's position in early cinema was to exemplify what men were not, placing the former in the diminutive position of the Other. One may conclude that men were often defined by what women lacked, and the women were defined by their relationships with these heroic men. As time progressed in the history of cinema, women's images retained part of this former definition; however, their identities were also shaped by the manners in which they related with the male characters. This scenario remains consistent in contemporary cinema as well. The research will reveal how the stereotyped women's identities change as they interact with the male characters; specifically, it will address the roles of the femme fatale in American cinema and the prostitute in Italian cinema. There are various factors that shape identity in film and literature. However, this research will focus mainly on male and female interactions in these areas: Postwar Italian cinema and American film noir. It will enhance research conducted by various film theorists and reveal the significance of shaping identity with gender interactions. Moreover, it will determine that shaping identity often serves as a significant catalyst for narrative.

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