2004 Student Research Conference:
17th Annual Student Research Conference

Language & Literature

"Philip Marlowe in Drag": Gender Roles in Current Detective Fiction
Jennifer A. Hertlein
Dr. Alanna Preussner and Dr. Priscilla Riggle, Faculty Mentors

Although males first established the detective fiction genre, some of the current leading writers are female authors writing about female detectives, such as Sara Paretsky, Laurie R. King, and Janet Evanovich. Given this shift, how is gender depicted in these more recent novels? Many of these new detectives are intelligent and athletic females with gender-ambiguous names, such as V. I. or Russell. How are they able to fit into the traditionally male detective role? Are they challenging traditional gender roles through their actions, or are they simply reasserting the dominant masculine hierarchy? Finally, where does Evanovich fit into the tradition of feminist detective fiction? Stephanie Plum is a more stereotypically feminine character, and yet the humor of these novels may still challenge the expected role of the detective. Females are not entirely new to detective fiction, yet their current gender roles within the genre deserve a closer look.

Keywords: Detective Fiction, Gender, Feminism, Janet Evanovich, Laurie R. King, Sara Paretsky

Topic(s):English

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 20-4
Location: VH 1304
Time: 10:45

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