Bitch or Badass: Anti-heroines of Contemporary Literary Media, Television, and Cinema (working title)
Edited by Melanie A. Haas (Texas Woman's University ) and N. A. Pierce (Old Dominion University)
As the general public’s need for more complex plotlines and edgier characters has increased in recent years so has the portrayal of self-determining, sometimes villainous, crafty, wily, independent women who seek lives or identities predicated on goals beyond the social prescriptions of heteronormativity, docility, domesticity, submission, and other characteristics stereotypically attributable to women in literature and film. These are flawed characters, struggling with both internal and external conflicts and circumstances. These women are not Disney perfect princesses; they are more human, more relatable, perhaps even a bit wicked, and they often take unconventional routes to achieve their aims. We cheer their deviousness, pettiness, malevolence, and artifice. We admire their cunning and determination. And we recognize that they’re not looking for a prince on a white steed to come and save them that they’re perfectly willing and able to do the work of saving themselves (or seizing their own crowns). These are women who do not hesitate to go their own way: women who claim it’s my way or no way.
Some of the most famous, enduring, and popular female characters are anti-heroines. These anti-heroines are represented from classic Western literature all the way through to current popular television series and films. Literary characters such as Medea, Lady Macbeth, Scarlett O’Hara, Lisbeth Salander and Amy Dunne, as well as film and television characters such as Thelma and Louise, Beatrix Kiddo, Cersei Lannister, Claire Underwood, Olivia Pope, Annalise Keating, and Nancy Botwin are primarily known for such traits as selfishness, scheming, deviousness, and manipulation. However, the argument could, and probably should, be made that these women are merely using the skills and tools available to them to protect themselves and to create the life that they desire. Depending on their specific circumstances, these women might lie, cheat, steal, manipulate, and even kill, to achieve their goals. Clearly, these women are no shrinking violets, and instead take an active part in controlling their own destinies. These anti-heroines are those characters we love to hate, but who we also respect and may even wish to emulate, even though they work outside of the bounds of traditional morality in order to achieve their own ends.
This collection will offer well researched, scholarly essays exploring representations of anti-heroines in twentieth- and twenty-first century literary media (including graphic novels), television, and film. The deadline for abstracts is 21 June 2019. Please send queries or a 250-word abstract outlining your topic and methods to both editors: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Completed essays for those proposals accepted will be due on 1 November.