Women's roles in detective fiction : a study in culture change

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Ketter, Ava L.
Coffin, James L.
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This thesis explored the nature of change in women's roles as reflected in British and American fiction from the turn of the century to date. The characters of women detectives were evaluated for how they functioned as active agents toward a solution to a given problem.This evaluation was based on three diagnostic points: 1) what rationale was offered to justify the characters as problem solvers; 2) what connections didthe characters hold with formal institutions of authority; and 3) what institutional skills, knowledge, training, etc. did the characters employ.This study revealed that the characters, though placed in an active role, operated from a strictly traditional orientation. Their motivations, "raison d'etre" and connections with formal institutions of authority were based on affective relationships, particularly those of a familial or romantic nature. The characters relied on intuition rather than skill or knowledge.