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Femme Fatale: Villain or Antihero? with Hilary Davidson

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Five Sessions Wednesdays, 6:30 pm EDT - 8:00 pm EDT October 25, 2023 to January 17, 2024

Online via Zoom

The ‘With Books’ option includes all titles required for this group at a 10% discount from our Bookstore.

Ever since Eve offered Adam an apple in the Garden of Eden, women have been blamed for the downfall of men. But in post-WWII America, the archetype of the femme fatale became an obsession in novels, films, and the popular imagination. During the war, women had unprecedented freedom and independence, often taking on traditionally “male” work to support the war effort. But when soldiers returned home, women were expected to retire quietly to the domestic sphere. Those who insisted on keeping their independence were dangerous to the status quo.

The femme fatale became a staple of hardboiled crime fiction. She was often written about as a conniving, cruel woman who uses her beauty and sexual charms to dupe good men into committing crimes on her behalf. While some authors treat these women as obvious villains, others offer a more interesting, nuanced take, exploring what it means to move through the world when the deck is stacked against you. Misogyny, poverty, class, and race are all motivating factors for the femmes fatales created by the authors we read in this course. All of them offer thought-provoking perspectives on the archetype of the femme fatale.

My approach is to have each session be as conversational as possible, encouraging participants to express their views and ask questions. But I always come prepared with plenty of background material and my own questions!

Meeting Details:
Wednesdays, 6:30–8pm ET
10/25, 11/15, 12/6, 1/3, 1/17
Online via Zoom


Led by

  • Hilary-Davidson-scaled-1067x1600

    Hilary Davidson

    Hilary Davidson

    Hilary Davidson is an award-winning novelist and journalist. She is the author of two mystery series, one featuring amateur sleuth Lily Moore (The Damage Done, The Next One to Fall, and Evil in All Its Disguises), and the other featuring police detective Sheryn Sterling (One Small Sacrifice and Don’t Look Down). Hilary is also the author of two standalone novels (Her Last Breath and Blood Always Tells), a short-story collection (The Black Widow Club), and some fifty short stories, which have appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Thuglit, Mystery Scene, Beat to a Pulp, and other publications. Her fiction has won two Anthony Awards and a Derringer Award and has been translated into French, German, Hungarian, Polish, and Russian.

    As a journalist, she is the author of 18 nonfiction books and has published work in a wide range of venues including American Archaeology, CNN, Discover, Frommer’s, Martha Stewart Weddings, and Reader’s Digest. Originally from Toronto, she has lived in New York City since October 2001.