Home of the Brave: Vigilante Women in Contemporary American Fiction




Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Vigilante literature tells the stories of individuals who rectify injustice by taking matters into their own hands. Examples of this plot can be found in American literature dating from colonial times, when settlers made an effort to preserve their moral code without the aid of an established justice system. The popularity of this theme finds further currency in tales of the frontier and the Wild West, and more recently, Hollywood has capitalized on its popularity by drawing from the myth of American pioneer culture and the theme of the lone avenger. This project identifies an analogous theme in contemporary fiction by women writers, who in the twentieth century began frequently employing female avatars of vigilante justice to challenge (in an illegal or extralegal fashion) those who violate the economic, social, or political rights of women. This dissertation analyzes a collection of novels and short stories by contemporary American women who employ the avatar of the vigilante woman, and demonstrates how female avengers, warriors, bandits, and killers extend and amend the vigilante tradition in the United States.



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Committee Chair

John Lowe



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