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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Hispanic Literatures & Linguistics

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Barbara Zecchi

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities


This doctoral dissertation examines the new relationships between women and crime developed in female-authored Spanish neo-noir cinema. After tracing the origins and transformations of classical and Spanish noir, as well as the survival of the femme fatale archetype in hegemonic cinema, I proceed to examine the films Beltenebros and Sé quién eres, as they are representative of a filmic body that deconstructs and subverts many of the traditional visual, narrative, and discursive conventions of this subgenre. I argue that the first film questions the mechanisms of female representations that have led to a “masculinization” of the genre, as well as the bearer of a patriarchal culture and ideology. The second film offers a shift in the gender/genre paradigm. The female subject is given narrative agency and professional authority to investigate the crimes and to demand collective and institutional action towards re-building a truly democratic society. Finally, these projects reflect on the ambiguity and validity of discourses that build upon and review Spain’s Francoist violent past, the fraudulent period of the Transition, and the political disillusionment caused by the Pact of Forgetting, leading the country to a collective historical amnesia. The second part of the Dissertation moves forward in the examination of contemporary representations of female figures of power through the inclusion of violent and criminal subjects. This new and debatable identity makes it difficult for a full recognition from the spectator, since her criminal motives are unjustified or they do not receive a satisfactory moral reasoning on behalf of the audience. I analyze the paradigmatic example of Ryu, the female protagonist in the film Map of the Sounds of Tokyo who works as a hit woman.This Dissertation argues that the existence of this criminal figure contributes to the development of a cultural space of female agency and to the fight against representations of female victimization. Each of the three projects analyzed in this research project offers significant differences from one another. Notwithstanding, they share a common denominator: they break away with the femme fatal stereotype and its counterpart, the “ángel del hogar” figure. All in all, I propose that these works reflect the evolving process that the female subject is undergoing in contemporary Spanish crime fiction. Furthermore, in an effort to redefine the history of Spain and reflect on the new and multiple roles of women in today´s society, these films bring to light an initial process of de-masculinization of the genre, followed by one of feminization, and maturing into what I have termed a gynocriminal tradition, which is part of a broader feminist project within female-authored Spanish crime fiction.