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GH 101: La Femme Fatale

GH 101: La Femme FataleImages of la femme fatale permeate Western society. You know her; she is the beautiful, dangerously seductive woman whose insatiable desires and consumption corrupt everything and everyone around her, including herself. From painting to contemporary cinema, high art to popular culture, la femme fatale endures as a powerful cultural icon. This course will trace the origins, history, and various manifestations of the figure of la femme fatale in the arts. The investigation will be two-fold:  to explore the ways in which artists construct la femme fatale, and to examine what purpose theses artistic constructions serve. In other words, how do artistic constructions of la femme fatale reflect and respond to the social and political context of their period? 

The course is based on the pairing of primary texts (novels, poems, paintings, films) with critical essays that explore the primary work’s historical, political, social, and/or aesthetic context. The pairing of critical readings and primary texts is designed to introduce students to canonical art and key theoretical notions of twentieth-century thought. Specifically, for la femme fatale, the bulk of the critical readings for the course draw from feminist and gender theory.

The evaluation of student work for the course is comprised of a combination of in-class discussions, critical writings, and an individual research project and presentation. The goal is to develop students’ artistic and historic knowledge as well as critical thinking, writing, and speaking skills. At the end of the course, students will be able to identify specific artistic movements, their historical context, and key artistic terms. They will also be able to read literary, visual, and critical texts at an intermediate level, identifying elements of style, rhetoric, and thematic structures. In addition, all students will develop their writing skills:  constructing and defending an argument and textual analysis, including themes, character development, imagery, and rhetoric.

Instructor: Dr. Keri Yousif

​If you have questions about this course, please email Dr. Yousif.


Video: Dr. Yousif discusses GH 101: La Femme Fatale